Scams are as old as the hills, but it’s getting harder and harder to spot them. We’ve put together a little roundup of cons to keep your eyes open for, and a few expert tips for staying safe.
We’ve all heard the stories of fraudsters targeting people with scams. Door-to-door imposters, the cold callers, the false investment schemes – some of them are the oldest tricks in the book. You know the ones we mean; the princes or princesses who just need a small donation to help them access their frozen fortune and, if you’re willing to help, you’ll be compensated with a large chunk of that wealth?
Most of us wouldn’t fall for that old cobblers, but they’re not always so clear-cut. Scammers make their money through trickery, and they wouldn’t exist if they weren’t turning a profit.
The fact of the matter is that many of us do fall for the misdirection and tricks carefully formulated to separate us from our hard-earned cash. Worryingly, the numbers of people affected is on the rise, thanks to the global growth of technology.
However, you’re far less likely to fall for one of these scams if you know what to look out for. They can get pretty crafty, so we’ve put together a list of the most common scams and how to avoid falling prey to them.
In the modern age of contactless payments, online banking and Apple Pay, it’s becoming easier and easier for fraudsters to get hold of your personal information. Once they have access to that sensitive material, it is extremely easy for them to set up credit cards, take loans out in your name, and more.
- Invest in a shredder and safely dispose of personal documents
- Report any unusual banking activities to the police and the bank itself
- Register to vote at your current address so a criminal can’t register elsewhere as proof of residency
JUNK MAIL PRIZES
From lottery jackpots to pyramid schemes, the lure of easy winnings can seem very appealing. But with more than £65 billion lost to date on ‘Nigerian’ scams (yes really), never forget that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Report email accounts offering these prizes as spam
- Put suspicious letters straight in the bin
- Check the company’s credentials on Companies House
These can range from someone posing as an official company representative or charity requesting card and pin details, to a grandchild asking for money to help them out of a financial problem, such as overdue rent or car repairs.
- Never give your PIN or password information out over the phone
- Ask them for their full name first and put the pressure on the caller by asking your own questions
- Take the caller’s details and check with family members or the official company’s help desk before making a decision.
- NEVER call a number straight back, and always check that the previous caller is actually disconnected before ringing out.
It’s so easy to make a website nowadays that anyone can do it, so be extra careful when looking to buy those concert tickets or purchasing the latest software online. There are many imposter websites looking to get hold of your personal details, and in some instances they can even take control of your computer — accessing bank details, passwords and other sensitive information.
- Check for reviews from past users by searching the website name
- Check for the correct URL, they should always start with https:// if they are secure
- Watch out for poor English such as typos and grammar mistakes – this is often a bit of a giveaway
Doorstep salesmen can be persuasive at the best of times but when they’re pressuring you into buying something you don’t need, giving money to charity, ‘checking’ meters or services, or parting with money in any way you need to be extra careful. Fraudsters could also be looking to gain access to your home, so be wary of who you welcome inside.
- Keep the chain on the door at all times
- Demand to see their employee ID before talking to them
- If you’re suspicious of a seller in any way don’t be afraid to call 999
If you or a loved one has been the target of fraud, or for more information on avoiding scams, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk