…and you’ve made your first mistake.
Don’t worry – we’re not out to scam you.
And we can’t blame you for clicking the link – it comes from the council, and we’re a trustworthy source of news.
But tactics like attractive titles and posing as people in trust are just two of the many tactics scammers will use to part you from your money.
Some of them are pretty blatant and easy to spot; others are more subtle and sophisticated.
But they’re all done with the aim of taking your money from you – and the only people who end up with loads of free cash are the scammers themselves.
Scams Awareness Month
We want to help you stay on your guard against financial and legal scams, as our Trading Standards team joins Scams Awareness Month, which takes place throughout June.
More than 1200 financial and legal scams were reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service in the 2017/18 financial year – about six per cent up on the year before.
And the median loss for the scams came to about £330 – no small amount to lose, especially if it can be easily avoided by just keeping your wits about you.
Some of the most seemingly enticing scams are investment scams, where scammers pose as go-betweens or professionals and convince their victims to hand over large amounts of cash.
These can include fake websites offering investments in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – but failing to pay out later.
Scammers often pretend to be stockbrokers and asking marks to place bets on phoney shares, sometimes promising big returns – check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid.
And they sometimes intercept e-mails from legitimate solicitors and having funds from property exchanges directed to their bank account. A good rule of thumb is to check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.
“So-and-so says this is an amazing deal…”
As Abraham Lincoln once said: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”.
Use a bit of scepticism when you see things quoted online (including the one above!).
Scammers will use made-up quotes to make what they’re offering seem a bit more legitimate, often using trusted names to make dodgy deals look attractive.
Or sometimes, it’s something as simple as slapping a person of the picture on the link or story, leading readers to believe they’re somehow involved.
But in the vast majority of such cases, the person quoted has absolutely nothing to do with what’s being sold.
Simple tips – keep them in mind
Whether they’re doorstep chancers or savvy con-men, there’s a few simple rules to bear in mind when dealing with scammers to help keep your money safe.
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
- Never send money to someone you have never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Walk away from any job ads that ask for money in advance
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, then wait five minutes to clear the line – or use another phone to call
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No, thank you” – you’re under no obligation to hand over your money, no matter how polite someone is
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
And above all else, remember the Golden Rule – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
For more information, contact our Trading Standards team on 01978 298997, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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