As loan scams continue to evolve and rise in the UK, merchants and small business owners must be more vigilant than ever to protect themselves, and their business, from fraudsters.
You may of heard of someone in this situation, or been in this scenario yourself: a merchant receives a cold call from a number they don’t recognise, and someone claims to be calling on behalf of their financial services company, advising they are eligible to receive a large cash advance. When the merchant questions the caller further, they can't confirm who provided their card machine and the merchant terminates the call.
This is, in fact, a real case of a loan scam, and luckily the merchant did just the right thing by refusing to continue with the call.
Reputable lenders, such as Retail Merchant Services (RMS) and its partners, will never offer you an unsolicited loan, as they are generally not offered without prompting. Furthermore, lenders don’t offer loans with a cold call.
Be cautious with unsolicited calls
There are a few red flags to look out for if you think you’re being scammed, and some general rules we should all follow to avoid scams:
- Treat all unexpected calls, emails and text messages with caution. Don’t assume they’re genuine, even if the person seems to know some basic information about you.
- Don’t be pressured into acting quickly. A genuine bank or financial services firm won’t mind waiting if you want time to think.
- Always double-check the URL and contact details of a company in case it’s a ‘clone firm’ pretending to be your bank or a genuine investment firm.
Action you can take against fraudsters
If you’re a merchant and someone calls offering you a loan on behalf of Retail Merchant Services, you can take the following action:
- Ask questions of the caller – What is their name? Who provided the card machine for the account in question? When was the card machine installed? Why is this number different from the usual Retail Merchant Services number?
- Never agree to any offer on the call – tell the caller that you will contact Retail Merchant Services to confirm they are genuine. Then end the call and contact us to confirm the details you gathered.
- With your approval, Retail Merchant Services can help you report the scam using the contact details provided. You can also contact the FCA yourself on 0800 111 6768, or by using their reporting form.
Stay alert, stay safe!