Stay scam aware this summer!
“Know how to spot a scam and protect yourself,” is the advice from Kelly Webb, our Operations Director of our Customer First Team this week.
There’s been a rise in scammers exploiting the pressures that the pandemic is putting people under, and there has been a significant increase in the number of scams reported in the past year.
If you think someone might be trying to scam you or someone you know into handing over money, it’s important to act straight away. If you need advice and support you can call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Kelly says: “Anyone can fall victim to a scam – people of all ages and backgrounds. That’s why it’s so important to be aware and keep an eye out for scams. If you’re not sure about something, don’t be rushed, take your time and get advice.”
Supporting you to stay scam aware
To help you stay scam aware, this summer we’ll be sharing tips, information and advice from our friends at Citizens Advice here on this webpage and through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, so keep your eyes peeled
What is a scam?
A scam is a scheme to try to steal money, personal information or data from a person or organisation. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle and cheat.
There has been a rise in scammers targeting people with finance-related schemes.
You should look out for scams like:
- Adverts offering fake “Get Rich Quick” schemes
- Phone calls, texts or emails pretending to be from your bank, asking you to move your money or to provide your personal details
- Scam emails or automated calls pretending to be from the government or an official company
- An offer of a pensions review out of the blue
When making financial decisions, there are some things you can do to minimise the risk of being scammed:
- Don’t give any money or bank details to anyone you don’t know or have only met online. Be wary of unexpected contact
- Be cautious of investment opportunities, particularly if they seem too good to be true. Seek professional advice before making any decisions
- Research whoever you’re dealing with. Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam.
Spotting a scam
It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. They can and do affect anyone. Here are some of the main warning signs of scams to look out for:
- It seems too good to be true – like an email saying you’ve won a competition you don’t remember entering
- Someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
- You’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends
- You've been asked to pay for something urgently or in an unusual way – for example by bank transfer or gift vouchers
- You’ve been asked to give away personal information
If you think you might be being scammed, you should get advice immediately. You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help with what to do next.
How to protect yourself from scams
There are some simple steps people can take to help protect themselves from scams:
- Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time
- Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online. If someone pressures you for these, it’s most likely a scam
- Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions
- Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
- Be suspicious. Scammers can be very smart. They can appear like a trusted business or government official, have a professional website and say all the right things. Take your time to work out if this is a real organisation. Ask them for ID or contact the organisation on a number you know and trust
- Make sure your antivirus software is up to date
- Keep your online accounts secure. Use a strong password for email accounts that you don't use anywhere else. Choosing three random words is a good way to create a strong and easy to remember password. You can also add in numbers and symbols.
If you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source.
Where to go for more help
- If you have been scammed, or think you’ve been scammed, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 0808 223 1133.
- If you’ve been scammed online you can also get advice from a Scams Action adviser (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) on 0808 250 5050 or via webchat.
- There’s lot of advice in the consumer section of the Citizens Advice website
- You can check recent scams on Action Fraud’s website, and sign up for email alerts to find out about scams in your area
- You can also find out about common financial scams on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website