HSBC’s branch closure hitlist: Remember the adverts for ‘the world’s local bank?’ Now see the map today – as a key service is wiped out! 

  • HSBC has already closed 218 local bank branches this year
  • A further 57 branches are expected to be closed early next year 

For years, HSBC branded itself as the world’s local bank, perpetuating the belief among customers that it cared passionately about having a presence on the high street.

Not any more. The boastful advertising has disappeared – and so has its commitment to ‘local’ communities. 

The Mail on Sunday has obtained exclusive details of the cuts the bank has made to its branch network this year. They make for grim reading.


 Debits: HSBC once boasted of blanket coverage, but axed branches now cover the map

According to details confirmed by the bank, HSBC has shut 218 branches so far this year, with another 57 poised to shut by early in the New Year.

It will shrink HSBC’s branch network down to little more than 700. No other bank has shut so many this year. Between them, the Big Four – HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds – have shut more than 500 branches this year.

The HSBC cuts are countrywide, in both rural and urban locations. Even branches in city centres such as Sheffield have been axed. In many cases, a closure has left a town bankless. 

Swathes of suburban London branches have also been culled. The rash of closures is on an unprecedented scale. HSBC shut 47 branches in 2013. In 2014, 95 were axed and last year 109. 

The current closure rate is equivalent to four branches being shut every week.

If the bank continues closing branches on a scale similar to this year, it would be branchless by the end of 2019, effectively turning its retail banking operations into a clone of its online bank, First Direct. At best, it would only have branches in major cities and towns.

HSBC is not alone in its cuts. Last year, Royal Bank of Scotland closed 234 and it has just confirmed that another 86 have been put on notice of closure across both the NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland brands. This is on top of 51 shut this year.


Closures: HSBC closed 218 branches in 2016 and there’s more to come

Lloyds, embracing the Bank of Scotland and Halifax brands, has also aggressively shut branches. It will have closed 212 this year and put as further 49 on notice of closure. Barclays has shut 50.

The scaling back of high street banks is, in part, in response to changing banking habits as more customers go online. 

HSBC says use of branches is down more than 40 per cent over the past five years – with 93 per cent of contact with the bank now made via the telephone, internet or smartphone. 

Some 97 per cent of cash withdrawals, it says, are via a cash machine. Royal Bank of Scotland says branch transactions have fallen 45 per cent over five years. 

Indeed, in recent letters (see below) to customers of branches doomed for the axe, it implies that it is they – and their failure to use the branch enough – who are to blame for the closures.

Though phone banking has cut the need for many people to use branches, there are still customers who depend on them. These include the elderly and local businesses.

Caroline Abrahams, director of charity Age UK, is disappointed by the marked increase in closures. She says: ‘Older people are often the worst affected when a bank pulls out of a town.

‘Many are not online or live in areas with poor internet and mobile phone service. They also have mobility and transport challenges.’

For customers keen to maintain a face-to-face relationship with their bank, there are alternatives. 


Trends: HSBC says use of branches is down more than 40 per cent over the past five years

Metro Bank is committed to opening new branches, though they will be primarily located in the south of England. It now has 48 branches extending as far north as Cambridge, with another in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in the pipeline.

Nationwide, a building society, has 700 branches but is keen to open more, especially in towns where all the banks have pulled out.

Other building societies, including Coventry and Cumberland, provide current accounts, though their branches are not countrywide. 

BRANCH CLOSING? NATWEST RECKONS IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT


Six years ago, RBS, which owns NatWest, launched a customer charter – to portray itself as the cuddly side of banking.

Yet the charter did not last long, especially a commitment to keep a branch where it was the last in town. Its latest ruse is to absolve itself of blame for closing branches. 

In letters to customers of doomed branches, it refuses to apologise. Instead, it points the finger at them – for not using branches enough.

It says because customers are using digital services the bank ‘must take some difficult decisions to make sure our branch network reflects what our customers want’. 

In other words, we’re closing your branch – and it’s your fault.

The Post Office also offers banking facilities and current accounts through Bank of Ireland, although its services are basic and inadequate for most small businesses.

On Friday, HSBC insisted it was keen to maintain a ‘sustainable network for the future’.

It said that customers who might have difficulty accessing an alternative branch when theirs closed would be offered ‘one-to-one appointments to discuss their future banking needs’.

It would also provide ‘training on internet, mobile and telephone banking as well as on debit card use, including cashback’.


Adverts: Is HSBC still the world’s local bank?

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Barrick Gold subsidiary loses prospecting licence in Tanzania




Tanzania’s president has lashed out at a Canadian-owned mining company, ordering the cancellation of its prospecting licence at a site where thousands of small-scale miners were facing the threat of forcible removal.

“How do you kick out more than 5,000 people in favour of just one investor?” President John Magufuli told senior officials this week, according to Tanzanian media reports. “This is unacceptable.”


Also on The Globe and Mail



Trump victory taking shine off gold
(Reuters)

Trump Selects Scott Pruitt, Climatechange Denialist, to Guide E.P.A. –

CALIFORNIA — presidentelect Donald J. Trump has picked Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorneygeneral plus a near friend of the fossil-fuel market, to perform Environmentally Friendly Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s perseverance to dismantle Leader Obama’s attempts to table climatechange — and far of the E.P.A. itself.

Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, is a huge important designer of the appropriate struggle against Mr. Obama’s climatechange procedures, measures that match the leader-elect’s responses through the plan. Mr. Trump has criticized the proven research of individual-triggered globalwarming being a joke, promised to “cancel” the London contract choosing just about any region to using activity to struggle climatechange, and attacked Mr. Obama’s trademark globalwarming coverage, the Clear Energy Program, being a “war on coal.”

Mr. Pruitt has been doing lockstep with these opinions.

“Scientists proceed to argue regarding the level and level of globalwarming and its particular link with what of humankind,” he composed in National Assessment earlier in 2013. “That argument must be urged — in sessions, public boards, as well as the places of Congress. It will not be silenced with dangers of justice. Dissent isn’t a crime.”

a gathering on Friday involving the presidentelect and former Vice President Al Gore could have offered ecological activists a shine of desire that Mr. Trump was moderating his plan posture. Mr. Trump told New York Times writers and correspondents he does “think there’s some connectivity” between individual action plus a heating earth.

with All The range of Mr. Pruitt, that desire could have passed.

“During the plan, Mr. Trump often confronted to dismantle the E.P.A. and rollback lots of the benefits built to lessen Americans’ exposures to professional smog, sufficient reason for Pruitt, the presidentelect could produce excellent on these dangers,” mentioned Ken Cook, brain of Environmentally Friendly Working Class, a investigation and advocacy organization.

“It’s a safe prediction that Pruitt will be the many dangerous E.P.A. Supervisor toward clean-air and protected drinking-water ever sold,” he included.

Mr. Pruitt, 48, is really a hero to conventional activists, one-of a small grouping of Republican attorneys-general who created an alliance with a few of the nation’s top electricity makers to push-back contrary to the Barak regulatory goal. Fossil-fuel passions approached Mr. Trump’s assortment with fulfillment.

“Attorney General Scott Pruitt is certainly a of states’ privileges plus a vocal opposition of the existing administration’s overreaching E.P.A.,” mentioned Laura Sheehan, a speaker for your National Coalition for Clean Coal Energy, which operates for the coal market. “Mr. Pruitt would have been a considerable style of purpose in regards to vitality and ecological regulations.”

in the middle of Mr. Obama’s attempts to handle climate change certainly are a number of E.P.A. Laws directed at pushing electricity plants to considerably lessen their wastes of earth-heating CO2 pollution. Mr. Trump can’t unilaterally stop the principles, of introduced beneath the 1970 Climate Act. But a legitimately knowledgeable E.P.A. Primary can significantly damage, wait or gradually consider them aside.

Beyond climatechange, the E.P.A. itself may be endangered. Mr. Trump campaigned over a commitment to drastically decrease — if not dismantle — it. “We will remove it in virtually every kind,” he once pledged.

Mr. Pruitt could be the proper gentleman to accomplish this. As attorneygeneral, Mr. Pruitt developed a “federalism unit” in his workplace, expressly built to struggle Leader Obama’s medical care legislation and environmental laws.

“You can view from him a growing energy to assign ecological laws far from the government and towards the states,” mentioned Ronald Keith Gaddie, a mentor of political research in the School of Oklahoma.

While Mr. Obama’s weather principles weren’t accomplished until 2015, Mr. Pruitt plus a couple of different attorneys-general started planning since 2014 to get a coordinated authorized energy to combat them. That triggered a 28-express suit from the administration’s principles. A determination around the circumstance is imminent in a national court, nonetheless it is commonly anticipated to progress for the Supreme Court.

As Mr. Pruitt has desired to utilize authorized instruments to struggle environmental laws around the coal and oil companies which can be an important element of his state’s economy, he’s also caused these organizations. A 2014 study From The Instances discovered that electricity lobbyists selected words for Mr. Pruitt to ship, on express paper, for the E.P.A., the Inner Office, Any Office of Supervision and Budget and also Leader Obama, describing the monetary trouble of environmentally friendly principles.

The close connections have paid down for Mr. Pruitt politically: Harold H. Hamm, the main government of Continental Vitality, an Oklahoma coal and oil business, was a co-chairman of Mr. Pruitt’s 2013 reelection strategy.

Mr. Pruitt, who spent my youth in Ky, shifted to Oklahoma to attend law-school. An enthusiastic hockey lover, for nine decades he co-held and maintained the Oklahoma City Redhawks, a league staff. He acquired a couch inside the Oklahoma Legislature and popped a tiny authorized workplace, which he termed Religious Legalservices, to concern government measures he observed as reducing specific privileges.

As he went for attorneygeneral of Oklahoma this season, he clarified he designed to employ his strength because the state’s top-law enforcement standard to try and push the E.P.A. to backdown, persuaded that it had been incorrectly moving on local government capabilities.

“There’s a originating from California nowadays that affirms, ‘We realize best.’ It’s aone-measurement-matches-all method, a-and-handle sort of tactic, and we’ve surely got to ensure we realize how exactly to answer that,” Mr. Pruitt was offered as declaring during his election campaign this season.

But that plan, after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in, swiftly turned a way to perform privately with a few of the greatest gas and oil organizations, as well as the state’s coal-burning electrical energy, to attempt to overturn a big the main Barak administration’s laws on-air wastes, water pollution and vulnerable creatures, papers received From The Situations present.

As attorneygeneral, Mr. Pruitt got the strange stage of mutually processing an antiregulatory suit with market participants, for example Oklahoma Fuel and Electronic, the coal-burning electric energy, as well as the Domestic Electricity Companies Coalition, a non-profit party guaranteed by key gas and oil professionals, including Mr. Hamm.

behindthescenes, he was using plan benefits from lots of the market participants on his staff, or helping supply perhaps greater chunks of income for the Republican Attorneys-General Organization, which he turned the chairman of.

Mr. Pruitt’s workplace likewise begun to ship words to national specialists — like the E.P.A. And also President Obama — that papers received through available files needs present were published by energy market lobbyists from organizations including Devon Power. Mr. Pruitt’s team placed these ghost-written words on local government paper and directed them to California, goes the organizations usually subsequently acknowledged inside their own media releases, without remembering which they had truly selected the words inside the first-place.

Mr. Pruitt realized he had been decorated being a instrument of market, in interviews and his or her own publishing, he refused that examination, declaring he occasionally produced alliances with private-sector participants that contributed his opinions — and was established to assist the vitality industry and specific residents in his residence condition.

“It could be the career of the attorneygeneral to guard the passions and well being of the residents and state-of Oklahoma,” Mr. Pruitt’s workplace mentioned in a record in 2014 for The Instances. “This involves defending Oklahoma’s economy from your dangerous aftereffects of national overreach by organizations just like the E.P.A. The energy market is really a key driver of the Oklahoma economy.”

Mr. Pruitt repeatedly discussed he considered claims themselves were inside the finest place to modify regional sectors, be it coal and oil organizations, or different participants which may influence the area setting, including Devon Electricity, that has been a factor to his political triggers, and which he’s served push-back against national laws.

With so much at position, Mr. Pruitt’s evidence proceedings assure to become warmed.

“At an occasion when climatechange could be the fantastic ecological danger for the total earth, it’s unhappy and hazardous that Mr. Trump has chosen Scott Pruitt to guide the E.P.A.,” mentioned Senator Bernie Sanders, separate of Vermont, who rests around the board that have to validate him. “The American people should desire commanders that are ready to convert our electricity method far from fossil fuels. I’ll strongly oppose this nomination.”

Oil helps on questions OPEC output slice may conclude global flood


Gas prices slipped on Friday before a U.S. oil supply record and on questions creation pieces assured by OPEC and Russia will be strong enough to get rid of a source overhang that’s assessed on areas for a lot more than 2 yrs.

Brent futures dropped 32 dollars, or 0.6%, to $53.61 a barrel by 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT). U.S. elementary dropped 46 dollars, or 0.9%, to $50.47 per barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Management (EIA) can launch primitive info for your week ended Dec. 2 at 10:30 a.m. EST on Friday.

Gross stocks dropped by 2.2 million barrels the other day to 485.4 million, weighed against analysts’ targets in a Reuters ballot to get a loss of 1 million boxes, the National Petroleum Company (API) mentioned in a written report Thursday evening.

Gas prices increased nearly 20% following the Firm of the Petroleum Exporting Nations and Paris declared the other day which they could minimize generation next year in a attempt to prop-up areas.

“This industry is observing period overnight because the OPEC arrangement looks totally charged for your moment being,” Jim Ritterbusch, leader of Dallas-centered electricity advisory organization Ritterbusch amp; Colleagues, mentioned in an email.

“From below, industry probably will be having a delay and find out method until proof genuine OPEC curtailments is observed in about six or eight days,” Ritterbusch said.

But questions have appeared over perhaps the prepared pieces will soon be enough to rebalance industry.

Considering that the package was declared, OPEC and Russia have noted history creation and productivity elsewhere can be strong.

The EIA mentioned on Thursday it expected U.S. raw oil output for 2016 and 2017 to slide by significantly less than previously predicted.

OPEC and low-OPEC oil makers satisfy this weekend in Vienna to recognize information on the productivity slice, which locates a standard reduced total of about 1.5 trillion barrels per-day (bpd).

OPEC member Nigeria, exempt from your pieces, mentioned on Friday it anticipated to improve its gas generation to 2.1 million bpd in Jan, up from 1.9 million bpd today.

Despite popular doubt, several professionals claim 2017 will probably view a more healthy gas industry.

“Oil areas are on-track to tighten over 2017, that will be multiplied by OPEC’s selection to cut back creation alongside low-OPEC nations,” mentioned BMI Investigation. “If successfully executed, we assume the international gas industry can come back to harmony in Q1 2017.”

Fat output continues to be outpacing use by 1 or 2 million bpd since late 2014.

Loyal savers in the dark over rate cuts to bank accounts

Banks are skirting around new rules that were supposed to make it easier to find your savings rate online, a Money Mail investigation found.

Under guidelines set out last week by city regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, savings firms must show account details in a uniform format known as a summary box.

But while rates for new savers are now shown prominently, the shoddy returns on older accounts are much less obvious. 


Money in the bank: While rates for new savers are now shown prominently, the shoddy returns on older accounts are much less obvious

If you already have an online account, your rate must be no more than one click away from your home page.

For branch and telephone accounts, your rate must be printed prominently on your annual statement.

Yet if you want to check the rate on your old branch or telephone account online at any time, you could find it tricky.

Your provider must also tell you of any fall in your rate 14 days before the change. But banks including Halifax and Lloyds fail to spell this out in their summary boxes.

Examples include the Halifax Isa Saver Variable summary box ‘What is my interest rate?’.

It says you will earn 0.35 per cent— or £3.50 on £1,000 in the account for a year. But it does not tell you that after 12 months you will be moved into its Instant Isa Saver.

This information appears near the bottom of another box entitled ‘Can I withdraw money?’.

Nor does it give you the rate on this account (0.25 pc dropping to 0.05 pc from tomorrow) which is closed to new savers and lower than its Isa Saver Variable.

There is simply a link that leaves you to search it out through four pages on rates on all its closed accounts.

With a new Lloyds Cash Isa Saver, you end up in its closed Instant Cash Isa after a year.

To find the rate of this account (0.25 dropping to 0.05 per cent from tomorrow), the bank makes you scroll through realms of rates on closed accounts.

NatWest has its summary boxes for all accounts in one big 20-page document — leaving you to search for the account you want to look at.

By contrast, Santander is far clearer. If you look to open its E-Isa, the section giving the rate explains the bank will move your money into its Isa Saver after a year unless you tell it otherwise.


It spells out you that will see £3.50 on £1,000 in the first year, but once in the Isa Saver at the current rate of 0.1 per cent you’ll earn £1 interest.

HSBC is also clear — and highlights that its rates are being cut on January 27 next year. On its easy-access Flexible Saver, the rate will be 0.01 per cent, giving you just 10p interest on £1,000.

Some banks have realms of accounts closed to new savers, often with similar names or even the same name with a different issue number.

Susan Hannums, director at advisers Savings Champion, says: ‘It is not easy finding rates on accounts no longer open to new savers. You can trawl through pages of rates in search of it.’

The box for accounts on sale now lists the name of the account, the interest rate and spells out whether it can vary or is fixed. It tells you exactly how much interest in pounds and pence you are to expect over 12 months, usually on £1,000.

It also explains how you can run the account —through the branch, online or by phone, or a combination of them, the amount you need to open it and if and how you can take money out.

The FCA has ended its so-called sunlight study into the lowest rates banks are paying loyal customers. It found HSBC and Co-operative Bank were among the worst, paying 0.05 per cent to some existing customers. By contrast, Coventry Building Society pays 1.15 per cent at least on its old accounts.

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Fat comes on productivity slice doubt, OPEC and Russia productivity surge


Gas prices on Tuesday dropped for your first treatment since OPEC consented to minimize productivity the other day after knowledge demonstrated primitive production increased in many key ship locations and on increasing doubt the cartel will be ready to lessen generation.

After growing more than 15 per cent on the four classes considering that the Nov. 30 OPEC conference, Brent futures dropped $1.06, or 1.9%, to $53.88 a barrel by 1:26 p.m. EST (1826 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped $1.05, or 2%, to $50.74 per barrel.

The Brent top-month deal has outperformed the U.S. deal considering that the OPEC conference, having its quality over WTI hitting $2.29 a barrel previously Thursday, its greatest since June.

“Reaction for the OPEC media was overdone. All-they did was consent to slice productivity which they had included lately,” mentioned Phil Davis, managing associate at capital raising organization PSW Assets in Woodland Park, Nj.

OPEC’s result fixed another record-high in December, growing to 34.19 thousand barrels per-day (bpd) from 33.82 million bpd in April, in accordance with a Reuters review.

Within last week’s selection, OPEC mentioned key gas makers beyond your party could minimize 600,000 bpd of creation together with OPEC’s 1.2 million bpd reduction. These places and OPEC satisfy this weekend to complete the conditions.

Italy claimed regular gas output in December of 11.21 million bpd, its best in almost 30 years. Meaning OPEC and Russia alone made enough to address practically half international gas desire, that is only above 95 million bpd.

Market-watchers had mentioned OPEC’s selection to minimize productivity noted an aboutface for Saudi Arabia, that has been struggling to retain marketshare for your previous couple of years by marketing more, if cheaper, boxes instead of improving rates.

In an indicator the combat for marketshare isn’t around, Saudi Aramco slice the Jan value for the Arabic Lighting level for Oriental consumers by $1.20 a barrel from Dec.

Meanwhile, Glencore primary Ivan Glasenberg resembled some concerns available in the market when he explained rates can decline to $35 must U.S. shale makers rampup their productivity although he anticipated they’d be “responsible.”

The U.S. Energy Information Management (EIA) wants U.S. primitive creation to slide significantly less than formerly anticipated to 8.9 million bpd in 2016 also to 8.8 million bpd in 2017 from 9.4 million bpd in 2015, in accordance with its regular shortterm energy perspective.

Professionals, meanwhile, estimate U.S. gross stocks dropped by 1million barrels a week ago.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is defined to produce U.S. supply info at4:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, whilst the U.S. EIA can launch its oil record at 10:30 a.m. EST on Friday.

Fraud is costing us £11 BILLION a year – so join our campaign

Fraud is the biggest threat to our personal finances.

Some £11 billion of fraud was committed in the last year – £210 for every person over age 16. Fraudsters, using the twin forces of slippery spiel and wizardry of the internet, currently hold the upper hand, stealing money indiscriminately from victims.

In a four-page special report, The Mail on Sunday explains how you can protect your finances from fraudsters and cyber criminals. 


Warning: Alison Havercroft’s father was defrauded after being cold-called

DAD LOST £20,000…WHAT THEY DID TO HIM WAS AWFUL 

Alison Havercroft recently discovered her elderly father was defrauded out of more than £20,000 after being persuaded to buy bogus shares and land in Bulgaria.

Her father Gordon was cold-called and persuaded to invest via a company called Chelsea Management Group – a name the sham company probably hoped victims would confuse with the legitimate and regulated broker Chelsea Financial Services.

Its ‘employees’ tried to swindle a further £100,000 from Gordon, at which point he became suspicious and contacted the police and his bank. Neither could help recover the money lost.

The scam dates back to 2006 but only came to Alison’s attention last month. While visiting her parents she handled a call on Gordon’s behalf from a company offering to buy the worthless shares from a decade ago – itself another fraud.

Alison, 59, who lives in Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire with her husband and son, says: ‘That was the first I heard about the shares.’

She asked the company to send further details, which it refused to do but followed up with emails and calls. After learning more about her father’s original investment, and researching the latest company to call, she realised it was a scam.

Alison says: ‘These terrible people prey on the elderly. How they operate is disgusting. People need to be sceptical.’

INVESTMENTS 

The scams: The fraudsters promote unbeatable investment opportunities and claim to work for a company with a proven track record and high calibre credentials.

The scams centre on the sale of shares, land, precious gems, wine and art that are either worthless or non-existent.

Often the fraudsters cold-call victims and build a rapport over several weeks or months – backed by a legitimate-looking website and convincing marketing literature.

Eventually, the hard sell comes and victims are put under pressure to get involved or lose out on the chance of high returns from a winning investment.

Once money is handed over, the criminals often come back to say the investment is performing well but more money is needed to inflate returns further.

But once every penny is squeezed from investors, the fraudsters disappear with the money, stop responding to calls, or simply declare the investment has failed.

According to City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, victims of such investment fraud lost an average £32,000 last year.

How to avoid them: The regulator is urging investors to better research companies they trust with their money.

Its ScamSmart campaign aims to protect those most at risk of investment fraud – the over-55s.

The latest phase of this campaign, to be rolled out this week, concentrates on the need for The watchdog’s research shows more than half of over-55s who invest in financial products do so alone without any input from family or friends. This is despite the fact that a fifth of people over 55 have been targeted by an investment scam in the last three years, rising to a third of over-75s.

Tony Neate, fraud expert and chief executive of Get Safe Online, says: ‘Get someone else involved. You need a third party perspective because cold-callers are so convincing. Someone else might identify a clue to a scam, such as a company based in a different place to where it claims to be calling from, it having no landline contact number on its website or no physical address.


Outraged: TV’s Nick Hewer is backing ScamSmart

‘If someone is claiming to work for a company that handles millions of pounds worth of investments they should be operating out of a real property and registered address.’

Check the regulator’s warning list to find out whether an investment could be a scam. Visit scamsmart.fca.org.uk. It is common for fake companies to mimic the names and websites of genuine firms with only slight differences. So match names and business contact details carefully if using the financial services register to check a firm. Visit register.fca.org.uk.

TV presenter Nick Hewer, who is supporting the ScamSmart campaign, says: ‘I am outraged at the persistent threat investment scams pose on society, especially those over 55 who are the prime target. The amount of money being lost by victims is worrying. If you are contacted by someone offering an investment out of the blue, just put the phone down.’

BANKS 

The scams: Your account may be hacked into and money withdrawn – as was the case for 9,000 customers of Tesco Bank last month. Alternatively, your debit card could be cloned at a dodgy cashpoint with a camera, or ‘shoulder surfer’ standing behind you in the queue, watching you enter your PIN.

Whichever route fraudsters take, the outcome is the same – money is stolen from your bank account. But it is important to know the methods used.

One of the biggest threats comes from phishing, vishing and smishing – the buzzwords for scam emails, calls and mobile text messages.

With emails and texts, clicking or tapping on any suggested links you think are from your bank can lead you to an unsafe webpage that asks for personal details. These can be used to gain access to your account or can download ‘malware’ on to your device – computer software allowing criminals to ‘read’ log-in details when you access an account.

Lawbreakers who call will spin a story about security problems with your account, take you through official-sounding steps to confirm your identity and protect your money, but will ultimately convince you to surrender a password or transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

Even if the name of your bank appears on your mobile screen during an incoming call, you cannot trust the caller is genuine.

This is because of ‘telephone spoofing’. Criminals use internet software so the number showing up on screen looks to be from your bank. This instils trust from the outset and means you are more likely to comply with a caller’s requests.

How to avoid them: The way people make payments from their accounts will soon undergo the biggest change in 60 years.


Panic: Personal Finance Editor Jeff Prestridge received a demand from ‘HRMC’, below

THIS THREAT FRIGHTENED ME (AND IT’S MY JOB TO WARN ABOUT THEM) 


PHISHING 

Writing warning articles about fraudsters sending emails in the hope of persuading you to part with details allowing them to empty your bank account is something we do for a living. ‘Ignore them,’ we cry. ‘Don’t open them.’

But when I recently received one of these so-called phishing emails, I was panicked. Could this be a genuine email from Revenue & Customs? It was a request for unpaid VAT of £19,923.14.

Although I have never had the need to be VAT registered, I was flummoxed on several fronts. First, the email had managed to get through the company’s stiff security measures designed to block fraudsters. It was the first one I had received in a long time. Secondly, I was frightened by the threat that failure to act on the email would result in the £19,923.14 being taken from my bank account in three days’ time. Money I don’t have. This Christmas would have been cancelled – and many more to come.

In sheer panic, I foolishly opened the email attachment – and shut it straight away.

I then began to spot discrepancies in the email. For example, HM Revenue & Customs was referred to as HRMC, not HMRC.

The language used was rather staccato, indicating that it might have been constructed by fraudsters operating from abroad. A phone call to Revenue & Customs confirmed my suspicions. It said it would never ask customers to open an attachment as the email wanted me to do.

It also said it would never put a figure in an email detailing how much someone owed in tax. All emails it sends cannot be replied to and are sent from no.reply@advice.hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

On Friday, Revenue & Customers said it was slowly winning the war against the phishing criminals. Some 14,000 fraudulent websites have been taken down this year while more than eight million phishing emails have been blocked in the last year. It urged anyone in receipt of a suspicious email purporting to be from Revenue & Customs to forward it to: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. For details on online safety, visit getsafeonline.org.

Thankfully, the company’s IT experts confirmed no bug had entered my computer. But never again will I be momentarily fooled. I will merely hit delete.

Regulators, banks and consumer groups are proposing a new safeguard called ‘confirmation of payee’. People who send payments to another account will be forced to double-check a recipient’s details, including their name rather than just account number and sort code, before any money is transferred. The timeline for introducing this – and a ‘request to pay’ feature allowing customers to approve direct debit payments before money leaves their account – stretches to 2020. For better protection now, check bank statements for suspicious transactions so you can act quickly if anything is amiss. Shred any personal information sent by post.

There is little you can do if a hacker has broken into your account – which can happen regardless of whether you bank online or not. Your information is stored digitally even if you do not transact that way.

If the bank is responsible for a hack-attack you will be refunded. But you are more vulnerable if you lose money to one of the ‘ishing’ methods – phishing, vishing and smishing. Never trust that an email or text claiming to be from your bank is genuine without checking and do not click or tap on any links. Open a new window on your internet browser and carefully type the real website address for your bank and log in to your account this way.

If someone on the phone is claiming to be from your bank, think twice. Do not agree to transfer money and do not share any passwords or debit card PINs. Your bank will never ask for a PIN or for you to transfer money to a ‘safe’ account. Neate says: ‘Use strong passwords and different ones for each account, install security software on your computer and update apps on your smartphones.’

PENSIONS 

The scams: Since new pension freedom rules in April last year – allowing the over-55s greater access to their retirement funds – fraudsters have been handed fresh opportunities to swindle millions of pounds from pensioners.

Scammers start their cash trawl with convincing cold-calls, texts and emails, often supported by realistic websites and brochures – all making tempting offers from ‘free pension reviews’ or ‘healthchecks’ to ‘pension loans up front’ and investments with high returns or cashback.

The smooth sales patter often involves a warning that investors should act fast not to miss out. Sometimes they arrange for courier firms to pick up completed pension transfer forms.

Pension firm Phoenix, which has prevented £30 million of fraud being committed on customers over the past four years, says fraudsters use a box of tricks to tempt potential victims.

FOUR KEY MESSAGES TO STOP READERS FALLING INTO A TRAP 


T – TELL

Fighting fraud will only ever be successful if you spread the word – warn your family and friends by discussing and highlighting common frauds. If you have lost money to a scam, tell Action Fraud too. Run by the City of London Police, it collects information to help build an overall picture of fraud in the UK, which it can use to better inform the public. And let your bank know as soon as possible in case it can help recover money from a criminal’s account.

R – RESEARCH

Never be put under pressure to invest, transfer or withdraw money quickly and without consideration. Research investment opportunities and companies that offer them using reputable advisers and the internet. Stop to think what a caller is asking of you too – and take the time to consider whether a legitimate firm or bank would ask for those details.

A- ASK

Seek advice from all sources – family, friends, experts and the internet. Ask questions of the caller too. For advice contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit actionfraud.police.uk

P – PROTECT

Keep computers up to date with anti-virus software and update smartphone apps. Try not to reveal too much personal information on social media – such as birthdays and a home address. And the best way to protect your money if called out of the blue about banking security or investment deals is to hang up and make checks. Find a wealth of useful information from official websites getsafeonline.org and cyberaware. gov.uk.

These include preying on fears about low interest rates, the importance of diversifying portfolios, not trusting the big banks and unpredictable stock markets creating ‘high’ demand for alternative investments.

Schemes used to lure the unsuspecting include investments in hotel developments in Cape Verde, forests in Costa Rica, betting on Australian corn futures and dubious green energy projects. Other exotic offerings feature fine wine, storage pods, burial plots, truffles, syndicate betting on football matches and even German listed buildings. They all have in common high charges, no regulatory protection – and little or no chance of an investor being able to cash in the investment.

In many cases the underlying investments are next to worthless or do not even exist. To rub salt into the wound, any transfer made from an existing pension may be unauthorised and result in a tax charge of up to 55 per cent on money that later disappears.

Some fraudsters pass themselves off as working for official organisations, such as Pension Wise. The problem has become so severe – with 250 million cold-calls a year – that the Government has now announced a ban on pension cold-calling.

But this will take months to put in place, giving conmen a window of opportunity to make hay before the legislation bites. Philip Kline, of Phoenix, says: ‘We expect scam text messages and emails to increase following the ban.’

Darren Cooke, director of Red Circle Financial Planning, was behind a petition that encouraged the Government to end the cold-calling scourge. He says: ‘The Government claims £20 million a year is lost in pension scams, but I say add a nought to that figure and you are closer to the truth.’


Duped: Joanna Coull was told she was owed a refund

MoS HELPS VICTIM JOANNA AFTER BROADBAND CONMAN TRICKED HER INTO PAYING OUT £7,800 

When Joanna Coull finally got her broadband to work after three weeks without it, she was relieved if still a little angry. As a financial adviser, the internet and email are essential tools in communicating with clients.

When she was then told she would be compensated for all the inconvenience she had suffered, she mellowed somewhat.

But Joanna, who lives near Taunton in Somerset, was about to fall victim to a scam costing her £7,800.

Only after The Mail on Sunday’s intervention last week did Joanna’s bank agree to refund her the money she had lost.

The fraud’s beginnings go back to last month when Joanna’s broadband stopped working. She reported this to Utility Warehouse which arranged for someone from BT to visit to sort out the problem.

Utility Warehouse’s selling point to customers is that it will arrange all their utility suppliers – gas, electricity, telecoms and broadband – thereby cutting out the hassle of shopping around.

The first BT engineer that came left bemused. A week later, a second one discovered a fault on the line and seemed to have resolved the problem.

A week later someone saying they were from BT – the same person who had called Joanna on the day of the second appointment confirming she would be at home – rang stating he needed to test the speed of her internet.

Joanna obliged. She was directed to a BT wholesale broadband performance test website where she was told her internet speed could be monitored. By logging into something called ‘TeamViewer’, the person on the phone was also able to look at the speed test.

Next morning, the same person rang again and another test was conducted. In doing this Joanna was directed to a page indicating she was eligible for a Utility Warehouse refund of £173.

The caller then directed her to what she thought was Utility Warehouse’s home page and a link called ‘claim a refund’ (no such link is on the official home page).

The caller indicated that the compensation could already be in her bank account. Clicking through to her NatWest account via what she thought was an official Utility Warehouse page, she discovered that £9,000 of compensation had been credited – not £173.

The caller said there had been a ‘huge mistake’ and that he would lose his job if the overpayment was not returned.

She was asked to refund £7,800 which she did.

When Joanna checked her account soon after, the £7,800 had been taken but the £9,000 credit was nowhere to be seen – the bank statement she had initially seen had been doctored. She had been robbed of £7,800.

After The Mail on Sunday requested the bank to investigate, it refunded the £7,800 as a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

Utility Warehouse said it was ‘sorry’ about Joanna’s ‘distressing experience’.

It said it was not to blame and that her data must have been accessed from BT Openreach. It added: ‘We have raised this case with TalkTalk, our wholesale broadband provider, and BT Openreach as a matter of priority so that they can identify the criminals who carried out this scam.

‘We note the telephone number from which Ms Coull was called is marked as “dangerous” on number checking website: http://who-called.co.uk/Number/02032390763. So it appears this has happened to other customers on the BT network.’ Joanna says: ‘This has been a nightmare experience. I know other people have not been so lucky.

‘I am so grateful for the intervention of The Mail on Sunday and to NatWest for coming up trumps.

‘It is so important that no one else goes through what I did. I had no idea that when I opened up TeamViewer on my computer I would ultimately be giving fraudsters access to my bank account.

‘As I went into my online banking through NatWest’s security process, I assumed my account was secure. It wasn’t. These fraudsters are so sophisticated. They copied my account details and made fraudulent entries making me believe that £9,000 had been deposited in my account.

‘What I have learnt is that you should never transfer large sums of money without checking with your bank.’

See BT’s warning at: home.bt.com/lifestyle/money/money-tips/beware-the-new-breed-of-computer-takeover-scams-11364015789542.

How to avoid them: Key terms to set alarm bells ringing include:

PENSION UNLOCKING – If someone calls out of the blue promising to help you ‘unlock’ your pot before the age of 55 it will be a scam.

QROPS – Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes. These can be legitimate schemes set up to transfer pension money overseas, such as when someone retires abroad. But increasingly they are used to swindle pension savers out of their money. Darren Cooke says: ‘Walk away if you see any mention of this type of pension, particularly if the firm is based in Portugal, the Cayman Islands, Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.’

SSAS – Small Self Administrated Schemes. There has been a sharp rise in scammers attempting to switch people’s pensions into fraudulent single member SSAS plans, a type of pension that allows a greater choice of investment.

The sales pitch is that savers can get ‘cashback’ or a ‘non-repayable loan’ but this is an unauthorised payment that will attract a tax charge.

If you have any doubts about the authenticity of a caller contact The Pensions Advisory Service at pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk or Pension Wise at pensionwise.gov.uk.

Also contact your pension provider, especially if you have triggered a transfer but have changed your mind – it may be possible to stop it.

Pension decisions are vital to get right. Consider contacting a professional financial adviser with pension experience. Find one through unbiased.co.uk, vouchedfor.co.uk or thepfs.org.

The Personal Finance Society has launched a campaign involving its 36,000 members taking a leading role in stamping out fraud. Keith Richards, chief executive, says: ‘Personal finance professionals are better placed to spot scams so we are asking members to spend 15 minutes each month to help identify and report potential scams.’

If you think you have fallen victim call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Haywood Securities hires new head of electricity bank

Haywood Securities Inc. has chosen a fresh brain of vitality bank, just-as indications point out developments inside the fat industry’s accomplishments.

Haywood has called Vic Rodberg managing director and brain of electricity investment bank inside the dealer’s Calgary workplace, stuffing a article that’s been empty since early in 2013.

Turquoise Mountain prevents deliveries from Mongolian quarry to China


Canadian copper miner Turquoise Mountain Sources Ltd mentioned on Friday it’d halted deliveries from its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia throughout the Chinese boundary, per day following the imposition of new charges on product deliveries involving the two places.

The payment was added carrying out a diplomatic line started by previous week’s visit of Tibetan religious head, the Dalai Lama, to Ulaanbaatar.

The Dalai Lama is appreciated being a religious head in mostly Buddhist Mongolia, but China regards him being a hazardous separatist and informed the visit can hurt bilateral relationships.

Turquoise Hill mentioned on Friday a new need in the Asian-Mongolian line to utilize one shared coal-and-target crossing course had generated protection and safety worries along with long waiting times.

The business mentioned it wasn’t apparent for the length of time it’d hold deliveries which it had been wanting to explain the specific situation with specialists in Mongolia and China.

Rio Tinto Plc performs the Copper Gold Oyu Tolgoi mine, that is 66% held by its Turquoise Mountain supply and 34% held from the Mongolian government.

Banks must help you compare savings accounts and make switching easier easier

Sweeping changes to savings accounts come into force today which mean banks and building societies must help people compare deals, clearly highlight when a rate changes and ultimately make switching easier.

The new rules, bought in by the Financial Conduct Authority, come at a time when savings rates continue to crumble to historic lows.

Nevertheless, providers will now need to provide easy-to-understand key information in an upfront summary box to help savers compare accounts.


Savings changes: The FCA has brought in new rules – but with rates crumbling, many savers are not being enticed to switch

It’s part of the City regulator’s attempt to prevent inertia. 

A previous report by the FCA found savers are put off switching by the expected hassle and perceived low gains from opening another account – as a result, eight in ten easy-access accounts have not been switched in the last three years.

Today, it has highlighted its third ‘name and shame’ table to show the lowest interest rates available from 32 providers of easy-access accounts and Isas.

Some historic easy-access accounts pay zero interest, including those from First Direct and HSBC. 

Meanwhile, some accounts open to new business pay as little as 0.01 per cent, including a deal from Ulster Bank.

This name and shame strategy is part of the FCA’s work to highlight firms’ strategies towards long-standing customers and show that some savers would be better off moving to another account.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: ‘The new rules coming into force today will help consumers get the facts they need to make an informed decision about what to do with their savings.

‘In a well-functioning market, providers should be competing to offer the best possible deal to consumers.

‘One of our regulatory priorities is the treatment of long-standing customers and we want to see all customers benefit from competition and innovation in financial markets.’

The FCA says it will now evaluate the effectiveness of publishing the tables.

The regulator adds that it will continue to work with banks and building societies on improving speed of transfers and consider if more intervention is needed to improve switching. 

CHECK AND DITCH

Many savers are lured in by teaser rates which then crumble some time later.

This FCA data highlights the need to check rates of any savings accounts you have.

Then check how they compare with the best buy rates in our independent tables.

Currently, the best rate you can get on an easy-access is one per cent from RCI Bank and best easy-access cash Isa 1.1 per cent from Coventry Building Society.





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online