Phishing and smishing
No, these aren’t made up words! However, you may have heard these types of scams are on the increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phishing – this is a fraudulent attempt to get your personal data such as usernames, passwords and bank details. They typically take the form of an email which is disguised as a trustworthy form of communication. Internet scammers are very clever and use them to ‘fish’ for your information.
Smishing – this has exactly the same idea as the above, but are text messages instead. They’re becoming more common and are a growing threat to the world of online security. They may look like the real deal but always be aware.
How to spot them
There are various ways to recognise them. Take a look at the most common mistakes the con artists make.
- An urgent tone - messages are designed to scare you into clicking on their links;
- Grammar and spelling – they are clumsily written, have typos and no spaces after commas;
- No name - legitimate emails from services you have accounts with will always address you by name. Phishing emails and smishing texts usually start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Customer’;
- Fake domains - scammers often set up website addresses that look authentic in order to trick you. Security researchers Digital Shadows say that more than 1,400 domains linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have been registered in the past few months. While many of those may well be real, others will almost certainly be used to mis-lead anxious consumers into thinking they’re genuine; and
- They can end up going straight to your spam/junk folder – if that’s the case, then just delete them straight away.
What to do if you get one
If you do receive something suspicious and you’re not sure what to do, contact the company directly using a trusted telephone number or website instead. Make sure you delete the email or text without clicking on any of the links. It’s definitely worthwhile reporting scams like this to the Government as well.
If you are scammed by something like this, it’s important to report it straight away to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Always remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Meet the team… Jen
This week, we introduce Jen, one of our delightful Directors here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Jen!
My job is to… deliver excellence to clients. I ensure the quality of our work and how we interact with our clients, is of the highest standard. We want our clients to enjoy working with us and we hope that the nature of our work combined with our jovial spirit makes us easy to work with.
I’m known for… my cheery outlook and being a stickler for detail and accuracy.
On weekends, I like… exercising, sampling good wine and of course cooking. My clubbing days are over.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion often go hand in hand but are different from one another. This means that organisations need to consider both, in their people management practices and strategies. Diversity is about recognising difference. It’s acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in decision-making and the workforce being representative of the organisation’s customers, or it’s membership.
Inclusion is where people’s differences are valued and used to enable everyone to thrive at work. An inclusive working environment is one in which everyone feels that they belong without having to conform, that their contribution matters and they are able to perform to their full potential, no matter their background, identity or circumstances. An inclusive workplace has fair policies and practices in place and enables a diverse range of people to work together effectively.
How this relates to occupational pension schemes
What makes a good Trustee of a pension scheme? You might think of characteristics such as fairness, independence, integrity, familiarity with the trust documentation and relevant law, investment expertise and the ability to solve problems, work towards goals, communicate and work with others.
A good Trustee will likely possess some or all of these characteristics, but one of the key legal duties in Trustee decision-making is the ability to take account of relevant factors and disregard irrelevant factors so as not to reach a perverse or irrational conclusion. In 2019, the Pensions Regulator commented for the first time on the correlation between Diversity & Inclusion, good governance and the proper performance of a Trustee Board’s legal duties.
"Our view is that pension boards benefit from having access to a range of diverse skills, points of view and expertise as it helps to mitigate against the risk of significant knowledge gaps or the Board becoming over-reliant on a particular Trustee or Advisor. It also supports robust discussion and effective decision making".
– The Pensions Regulator, Industry Consultation: Future of Trusteeship and Governance, July 2019.
Concert are all to aware of the challenges that this can bring to trustee boards and are currently helping several of our clients with Diversity and inclusion strategies. If you would like help in this area then please contact your Client Manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the team… Ben
This week, we introduce Ben, our tech savvy Front End Developer here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Ben!
My job is to… build beautiful, informative and engaging websites. I turn the work of our wonderful design team into polished digital experiences, with a tasteful dose of bespoke animations and transitions conjured from the ether as inspiration strikes.
I’m known for… the quality and quantity of websites I produce, my prescient eye for potential pitfalls and my orthogonal vocabulary. I am also a youthful idealist, with big hair and bigger dreams.
On weekends, I like… replaying the Dark Souls games on PC for the hundredth time, while listening to podcasts and planning my utopia.
All it takes is 1%
It can be tricky to find that little bit extra to save, especially with so many things competing for a share of your finances.
However, it’s worth noting that a small increase now, will have a real impact on the amount you will receive when you stop working.
If you increase your contributions by just 1% a year, you’ll reap the benefits. You might just need a little nudge.
Automatically increasing contributions by a small amount every year is called ‘auto-escalation’. It only applies to your contributions and can be timed with salary increases so you don’t really notice a difference in the amount you take home each month.
Here’s how it works in real numbers…take Jack and Jill as an example.
- They’re both aged 22, each paying 3%;
- Jack doesn’t increase his payments from age 30 to 37; but
- Jill adds a 1% increase each year from age 30 to age 37.
Jack could have £430,000 by age 65 (in future terms) but Jill could have £660,000. Imagine what you could do with the extra cash!
Meet the team…Sam
This week, we introduce Sam, our super Head of Design here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Sam!
My job is to… lead the Design team and ensure the work we produce for our clients is clear, creative, inspiring and accurate. I also work closely with the Digital and Production teams to make sure we’re all on the same page.
I’m known for… being organised, open and having an eye for detail.
On weekends, I like… spending time on the South Devon coast with my husband and our mad Spaniel Baxter.
Meet the team…Mollie
This week, we introduce Mollie, our outgoing Communications Consultant here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Mollie!
My job is to… make pensions easy to understand through the use of simple language. I’m not afraid to try and make it fun! I regularly meet with clients to ensure their communications strategy is on track and suitable for the needs of people like you and me.
I’m known for… my organisation skills, positivity and storytelling.
On weekends, I like… being outside running around Greenwich Park before heading into London town to see my friends, eat food and drink beer!
The new daily commute
With everything starting to slowly open up, people are thinking about how they will travel to work in future. A popular way to get to work is by bike - it’s good for the environment, good for the body and also good for the wallet. Here’s why…
Enter the cycle to work scheme!
The Government introduced the cycle to work scheme around 20 years ago. The aim is to encourage employees to make better lifestyle choices and lets the budding cyclist to spend up to £1,000 on bikes and equipment tax-free (hooray!).
With most employers, it’s an anytime benefit. So when you’re ready, you can sign up. Simple!
The money then comes straight out of your monthly salary, allowing you to immediately start saving on tax and National Insurance (NI) and get on your bike.
So how much is it?
For example, if you wanted to spend £1,000 on a bike, this is the cost breakdown (if you’re a basic rate taxpayer):
|The money you ‘give up’ monthly
|Savings per month
|Savings per year
|Total payment towards a £1,000 bike
If your gross salary was £2,000 per month, you would normally pay £640 in combined tax (20%) and NI (12%). With the £83.33 salary you’ve ‘given up’, your monthly tax/NI burden is only £613.34 which means you’re saving £26.66 on tax. Cha-ching! That’s more money in your pocket for fun stuff.
At the end of the hire agreement, you then have the option to own the bike outright. This will vary between providers, so it’s worth double checking the rules.
If you’re unsure of what to do, or where to find information think about the following:
- Ask a colleague – they might already know how the process works and can talk you through it.
- Log in to your online benefits platform (if you have one), but if you don’t, ask your HR representative on how to start the process of opting into the scheme.
- Don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions of your Hire Agreement – there will be important information in there you need to be mindful of.
- Practise cycling on the roads – busy traffic can be quite scary so it’s worth going on a cycling course to learn new skills.
- Dress the part – make sure you have a helmet and attach lights to your bike. Safety is key!
Meet the team… Jamie
This week, we introduce Jamie, our savvy Web Application Developer here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Jamie!
My job is to… build applications that help people make sense of the data needed to run their business. If your spreadsheets are getting out of hand, talk to me.
I’m known for… asking thought provoking questions, and my growing collection of interesting t-shirts.
On weekends, I like… sitting with a quiet cuppa and devouring the newspapers. I recently started learning virtual 3D modelling.