Nearly half the UK has been targeted by a scam – that’s why we’re taking part in Scams Awareness Month 2015 to help people get #scamaware. If you spot a scam, report it!
A scammer may:
- contact you out of the blue
- make promises that sound too good to be true – if something sounds too good to be true it probably is
- ask you to pay for something up-front – for example, they’ll ask you to pay a fee before you can claim a prize
- ask you to make a quick decision by saying things like ‘if you don’t act now you’ll miss out’. This puts you under pressure and doesn’t give you time to think
- be over-familiar and over-friendly with you
- tell you an offer has to be kept secret
- ask for your bank account details. Never give your bank details to people you don’t know, especially people you meet online
- give a mobile number or PO Box number as the contact for their company- these are easy to close and difficult to trace. It may be a sign that the company doesn’t exist or isn’t legitimate. Check out the company’s details with Companies House or look on the internet for more details about them.
If you think something might be a scam, don’t reply – then throw it away, delete it or hang up and get further advice.
What is a vishing phone scam?
These cold call scams typically involve fraudsters deceiving people into believing they are speaking to a police officer, a member of bank staff, or a representative of another trusted agency, such as a government department.
Usually the fraudster will convince an individual that they have been a victim of fraud, and will ask for personal and financial information in order to gain access to their account.
Beware giving bank details
Never disclose the following details:
four digit card PIN to anyone, including the bank or police
full password or online banking codes
personal details unless you are sure who you are talking to
Top tactics to watch for
Another variation of a phone scam involves the fraudster persuading people to transfer money to other accounts or to hand over cash directly to a courier.
The fraudsters are known to encourage people to hang up and call their bank to verify the legitimacy of the call.
However, a phone line can stay open for up to two minutes, so the fraudsters remain on the line and play a dialling tone to trick the individual into thinking they’re calling their bank.
In fact, the fraudsters are still connected and the individual is not speaking to their bank, but is still connected to the scammers.
To ensure you don’t fall prey to this type of phone scam, remember that in no circumstances would your bank or the police ask you to take such actions.
These types of requests will only come from a fraudster. Our guide helps you if you think you may have given a fraudster your bank details.
Many phone handsets now let you see the number of the person calling before you answer.
This feature – known as ‘Caller ID’ or ‘Calling Line Identity’ (CLI) – is a handy way of screening the calls you want to answer from the ones you don’t.
However, there have been growing instances of nuisance callers and criminals deliberately changing the Caller ID, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.
Don’t trust the number displayed.
To protect your identity and cash from online scammers:
- only allow someone to remotely access your computer if they are from a trusted source, such as your internet service provider
- create passwords which are long, unique and use a mix of random numbers and lower and upper case letters. The longer the password the harder it is to guess. A ten digit password is better than an eight digit one. Make sure you change passwords regularly and don’t share them
- use antivirus software and keep it up to date. This will check for malicious computer programmes and monitor files before they are opened. Up-to-date software is important to protect against the most recent viruses. If you buy software online make sure it is from a genuine supplier
- understand what software you are installing on your computer or phone and make sure you are using a secure site when you buy software, tablet or smart phone. A secure site will have a web address beginning with https not http
- make sure you leave your firewall switched on. A firewall is a security shield that stops scammers getting into your computer. Operating systems such as Windows come with built in firewall settings. They can monitor and warn you of unexpected access to your computer
- make sure you regularly install updates to your operating system. Windows is an example of an operating system
- install the latest version of your web browser, for example Internet Explorer, which will have the latest security features
- don’t open suspicious or unknown emails, email attachments, texts or pop up messages. For example an email with an unusually worded subject heading
- before entering payment card details on a website, make sure the link is secure.
The Pensions Regulator has produced a booklet to help you understand more about pension scams and how to protect yourself against a lifetime’s savings being lost: Pension scams: booklet
If you think you are being targeted by a pension scam
- Never be rushed into making a decision.
- Before you sign anything, call TPAS on 0300 123 1047.
- If you have already accepted an offer report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- Before you agree to anything, make sure the adviser is approved by the FCA.
The Government has set up a new service called Pension Wise to help members approaching retirement or age 55. To understand your options go to Pension Wise.
Protect your friends & relatives from courier scams. Criminal callers pose as banks & send couriers to pick up your bank card
Mail scams cause misery. Never send money to someone you don’t know
Watch out for fake lottery letters. If you didn’t enter, you haven’t won!
Report all scam mail to @RoyalMail – email firstname.lastname@example.org
What to do if you’re scammed
Fraudsters are very cunning in their tactics so it’s not always obvious to tell straight away if you’ve been scammed, or who to report it to.
If you spot a scam report it to:
- Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Helpline 03454 04 05 06 www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/protection-for-the-consumer/trading-standards/reporting-a-problem-to-trading-standards/
- Premium rate scams Phonepay Plus 0800 500 212 www.phonepayplus.org.uk/for-consumers/unexpected-phone-charge
- Organisation named e.g. bank, council, govt. dept., company
If you fall victim to a scam report it to:
UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre
0300 123 2040