Last week marked the start of Scams Awareness Month and Citizens Advice revealed recently that 75% of us have been the target of a scam in the last two years.
Almost 75% of us have been targeted by scammers in the last 24 months and at least 1 in 10 people know of someone who has lost money to fraud. Scam Awareness Month is a yearly campaign that helps to ensure more customers are clued up on all the latests scams when it comes to fraud. Scams can happen to any individual and people shouldn’t be embarrassed if they fall victim to them. Today, we show you 10 of the latest scams in the UK and how to protect yourself.
1. Investment Scams
Investment scams are very dangerous because the losses can be devastating. They’re usually initiated with a cold call, a message on social media or an email. Investments can include property, jewellery, minerals, land, shares and even investments overseas. Remember if someone contacts you out of the blue and it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The people who lure you into these scams are usually very talkative, very well spoken and always available. But don’t let this fool you… they will do almost anything to secure your capital. Once they have your money they often keep up promised payments to trick you into parting with more cash. Once they have what they want, you will never hear from them again.
2. Ticket Scams
A Ticket Scam is when fake tickets are sold or tickets are sold for made-up events and not refunded .
Sometimes its really hard to tell if an online ticket company is genuine. Fraudsters can create really convincing websites and even copy an official website. If you are going to use a ticket company that you have never used before, always Google them. Usually these websites are temporary as they like to rake in the cash and scarper. If they have been around a while and are well known, you will be able to tell by their presence on Google. It’s also worth checking Companies House too, any genuine seller should display their company number at the bottom of their website.
Tip: Use your Credit Card and not a Debit Card. If you end up being scammed you may find that you are protected.
3. Pension Scams
A large proportion of the elderly have money put away for inheritance for their children, but when grand children come along its not uncommon for them to want to invest this to try and increase funds for their family when they are no longer around. Cruel scammers have been taking full advantage of this and have conned millions of pensioners into parting with their life savings, leaving families devastated. Our advice is simply this. Don’t part with your cash unless you are fully aware of the risks, and are prepared to lose what you invest. Don’t fall for magnificent interest rates or someones charm. If somebody calls you randomly out of the blue and things seem too good to be true, then they probably are so run a mile.
Tip: Make your older relatives aware of these scams and the technology used.
4. Phone, Text & Email Scams
In these types of scams, fraudsters use email, texting and even phone calls to pretend to be from an official company. This method is called Phishing. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, some of these methods can be pretty convincing, especially for the elderly. Scammers will trick people into handing over bank login details, calling premium telephone numbers or downloading malicious software which may include key loggers and trojans. These programs establish a connection from your device to theirs, and it allows them to see your activities. If you’re ever in doubt, use a search engine like Google or Bing to search for the company telephone number if available and give them a call.
Tip: If you receive an email, click the ‘sender’ and this usually reveals the true email address.
5. Technical Support Scams
Alot of people are often targeted via telephone and advised that their computers or laptops are infected with a virus. They will tell the victim to navigate to a certain area on their device where error history for the life time of the device can be displayed. Usually there are alot of exclamation marks and warnings displayed here and although it looks problematic, it’s completely normal. Scammers convince their target that these are ‘viruses’. They will then ask you to navigate to a website which will give them remote access to your system. Here scammers can lock down your PC and only unlock it after you have paid, or they can copy sensitive information from your PC such as credit card details or even install monitoring software.
Tip: If told to download something onto your PC, hang up the phone immediately.
6. Employment Scams
The younger generation are more likely to be targeted by this. Fraudsters advertise jobs on popular job search websites and then con people into parting with cash for things like expensive training courses, equipment, security checks and uniforms. Often these jobs don’t even exist and the victim finds that the company has simply vanished off the face of the earth.
Tip: If you’re ever in doubt, try and find somebody who already works for the company.
7. Copy Cat Website
Usually, a copy cat website charges people for official documents which you can obtain yourself for free (or at a cost through an official source). In March this year, a couple were jailed for 35 years for making £37 million selling fake passports and driving licences through a copy cat website.
Tip: Always get your documents from the official government sources.
8. Fake Goods
Fraudsters often list desirable items on sites such as ebay at bargain prices. They then try to get the buyer to make a Bank Transfer but unfortunately, items never arrive. Another method they use is to list high value items, but put in small print that it’s just an actual picture of the real item or even a miniature version. When the item does get sent, it’s not what the buyer expected. Never pay for your items via Bank Transfer. Always use Paypal or a Credit Card.
Tip: If the item costs between £100-£30,000, use a credit card. You may be able to retrieve your money via a Section 75 Claim should you find yourself at the hands of fraudsters.
9. Contactless Cards
Fraudsters are capable of obtaining contactless technology which can read the details from a contactless credit or debit card. Details can therefore be used to purchase items online. A scammer would usually have to be pretty close in-order to grab your card details however with upgraded technology now available, this can be done from further away with a more powerful device. Specially shielded wallets are available for a reasonable cost which prevent scammers from being able to read your card details.
Tip: Be careful with your contactless cards, if you lose one, report it stolen immediately. People often exploit the contactless feature when finding cards, usually at night clubs and bars/restaurants.
10. Money Mules
Criminals sometimes ask victims to allow the use of their bank account to receive money. This is usually to hide their identity to make it more difficult for the police to catch them. Criminals will usually pay ‘mules’ a fee for using their account. Account holders are usually caught as a result and prosecuted by authorities as they are technically breaking the law.
Tip: Never allow anyone else to use your bank details and always report suspicious transactions to your bank immediately.