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COVID19 brought out both the best and the worst in humanity.  On the one hand, there are plenty of tales of true heroism.  On the other hand, there were also plenty of tales of exploitative practices.  Sadly, at least some of these are still ongoing.  With that in mind, here are some tips on how to identify Predatory Firms,  when you’re being targeted and what to do about it.

Keep on top of your situation

Many scams rely on the intended victim feeling under pressure.  Predators can try to create that sense of pressure themselves.  For example, one common tactic is to make the intended victim feel like they are up against some kind of deadline.  It is, however, easier if predators can leverage a sense of pressure the intended victim already feels.

Right now, a lot of people are under financial pressure.  This means that predators know that this is an effective angle to leverage.  What’s more, the sophistication of the modern internet can make this even easier for them.  They can pay for adverts to be displayed only when people display behaviour that suggests they are in financial difficulty.

Using ad blockers can provide some protection against this approach.  It is, however, rather limited.  In particular, if you use social media, ads will usually be shown to you in the same way as posts.  In fact, some of the posts you see may actually be adverts.  If so they should be declared as such but that declaration isn’t always clear.

This means that the only really effective means of defending yourself against predators is to keep on top of your situation.  The more confident you feel about your ability to manage your finances (or anything else), the less likely you are to fall victim to predators.

Get your financial paperwork in order

Managing financial paperwork isn’t necessarily fun even at the best of times.  If you’re struggling with your finances, just the thought of having to pull everything together may be more than you want to deal with.  That’s completely understandable but progress starts with the first step and you can only take that first step once you’ve organised yourself for it.

Once you have everything together, you can make an informed decision on whether you’re confident tackling your situation yourself or whether you really do need help.  If you’re not sure then err on the side of getting help.  If you feel like your situation is too variable to pin down easily, then definitely get help.

Even regular budgeting can be difficult if you’re on a variable income and/or have a lifestyle that’s subject to frequent changes.  There is, however, an important difference between difficult and impossible.  The quality of the help you receive can make the difference between you finding it and you missing it.

Get the help you need

If you’ve recognised that you need help, then you’re already in a better place than you were before.  Your next step is to work out the best place to get it.  Often the best place to start is on the internet.  Just be sure to stick to reputable websites.  For example, look at the Money Advice Service or Citizens Advice or established private websites such as Moneysaving Expert.

Some people may find that this is all the help they need.  Some, however, are going to need, or at least benefit from, getting customised help from a real human.  There are debt-help charities and it can be worth seeking these out.

You do, however, need to be aware that these charities have a lot of people seeking their help.  Paying a professional debt advice company will often get you a much quicker service which means much quicker relief from any stress you’re feeling.  Just remember to research the company’s credentials thoroughly so you’re sure you’re dealing with a reputable firm. We are always happy to chat to you in confidence and all initial conversations are free.

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