A scam is a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt obtain money or something else of value.
Scams affect the lives of many people. They come in many forms and it is impossible to know about all of them. They can be sent through the post, by email or over the phone. They all have one thing in common – to take your money
Scammers are very creative!
Always think before you act! There are a number of things to look for, when identifying a scam:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Often scams will ask for money up front in return for a ‘prize’.
- Scammers may put a lot of effort into making their letter, website or correspondence look professional to try and fool you into trusting them.
- Scammers may try to obtain your bank account, credit card or other personal details.
- Scammers will often claim there are urgent deadlines for money to be claimed or access to accounts to remain valid.
- If the contact is from a ‘company’ you have regular interactions with – Is it the usual way they make contact? Does it seem a sensible way for them to make contact?
Once you show any interest the Scammers will keep coming back for more. They may also pass your information onto others who will then target you.
What can you do?
- Never give anyone the PINs for your bank or credit cards. No reputable company will ever ask for this information.
- Never give out your bank, credit card or personal details unless you a certain about the authenticity of the person you are dealing with.
- Install antivirus soft wear on your computer
- Be vigilant for poor grammar or spelling, particularly if the correspondence claims to be from a bank or a well-known retailer.
- Don’t pay up front in order to ‘release’ prizes or funds.
- Shred or burn all financial documentation.
- Make sure your passwords are complex; change them regularly; and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
- If you have elderly relatives, friends or neighbours, you can help protect them from scams by becoming a Friend Against Scams. This is a national scheme which is free to join and includes an online awareness session or local workshop event
Further Information and contacts
Take a look at the A to Z of fraud on Action Fraud website
Get advice on nuisance telephone calls from the Information Commissioner
For further advice or help for a relative contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service online or call 0808 223 1133
Protect elderly and vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and criminals who contact them by telephone: Think Jessica website or contact The Silver Line Helpline (helpline for older people) on 0800 470 8090