Scams – Think Before You Act and Don’t get caught out
- that’s the reminder from the OFT.
Most of us feel that we wouldn’t fall for a scam and that scams only affect ‘other people’. However, the reality is that you are very likely to be targeted at some point – scammers contact people on the Island every day and cases recently reported to OFT Consumer Advisors show the range of techniques they use:
- One local individual selling his car online for less than £1,000 was approached by a buyer off-Island offering £3,500. Although tempted to sell, after a string of emails, the seller became suspicious and stopped contact. It was likely that the buyer would have obtained bank details to make the bogus payment in an attempt at identity fraud.
- Another Island resident was telephoned by somebody claiming to be from her bank and asking her not to use her bank card, as the bank was having problems. The lady ended the call, as she knew her bank would never contact her in that manner. Had the scam been successful, it was likely that a follow-up call would have asked for more information such as account details.
- A local shopper found a cheap deal for a new TV for £600 online, the usual retail price being over £1,000. He agreed to send a payment through MoneyGram money transfer service. The buyer was then advised that there was an additional charge of £300 for delivery. After a string of emails, during which the buyer was advised that the TV was held up in a port, the buyer realised the TV wouldn’t arrive and didn’t in fact exist. MoneyGram serves a useful purpose for transferring money, but it offers you no protection if the goods don’t arrive or the terms of the sale change. Sadly in this case the buyer lost money but at least didn’t allow the matter to get any worse.
Scammers like to catch people unawares or build trust, creating a false sense of security and avoiding raising suspicion in order to obtain money, or get personal information to be able to obtain money. The victim of the scam doesn’t realise that there may be dishonest attempts to take their money until it’s too late. This can especially be the case where contact has been on-going 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.
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. Think about vulnerable or elderly friends and family – impress on them that they should always speak to someone they know prior to ordering items or giving out personal details. So, 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 contact 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?
Further information and advice on ‘Scams’ can be found under the ‘Consumer Advice’ section on this website or by calling the Office on 686500.
Action Fraud’s website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk is also an excellent source of information about the many different types of scams and how to avoid them.