Scams – don’t get caught out
Of all the issues of concern raised with the Office of Fair Trading by the public, “scams” are the most frequent. Scammers operate through all forms of communication – emails, social media, phone calls, text messages, letters and fax - and they target people of all ages and circumstances.
A “scam” is an attempt to cheat you out of your money. Sometimes “scams” are very obvious and are easily spotted – you may have had an email from an African prince offering you a financial reward to help him remove money from his home country and requiring your bank details. However, most scams are far more subtle and difficult to assess.
Most of us feel that we wouldn’t fall for a scam and that they only affect ‘other people’. The skill of the scammer is to build trust, create a false sense of security and avoid raising suspicion in order to obtain money, or get personal information to be able to obtain money. The victim of the scammer doesn’t realise that there may be dishonest attempts to part them from their money until it’s too late. This can especially be the case where contact has been ongoing over weeks or even months; where a relationship of trust and confidence has been built-up. Scammers may claim to be from an organisation you regularly deal with, such as your bank. They may even claim to be alerting you to a breach of security and ask for urgent confirmation of your bank details.
Some of these are easily recognisable as scams, but many look legitimate and are very convincing. Fraudsters over the years have realised that the more professional and sophisticated they make their communications, the more people will be drawn in by them.
But how can you prevent yourself becoming a victim? The main thing to remember is - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Look out for these warning signs:
- Did the offer come out of the blue - was it unexpected?
- Do you have to make a purchase to win a prize or make a payment to have larger amounts of money released?
- Is the caller trying to “alarm” you into acting quickly?
- Do you have to give your bank or credit card details?
- Is the business reluctant to give an address or contact details?
- Is payment requested through a normal high street bank, or through a less traceable route?
To watch a video interview on scams with our Advice Centre Manager follow the link
Further information and advice on “scams” can be obtained by calling the Office on 686500.