DON’T fall prey to scammers.
That’s the warning from Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service which is supporting national Scams Awareness Fortnight.
Warwickshire community safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump said: “In 2019-20, UK fraud victims reported losing over £2.3billion to scams. These ranged from bogus investments to romance and computer ‘fix’ scams. This year we’ve seen many COVID related frauds as well.
“Fraudsters are very clever and are quick to take advantage of new technology and national and global situations, such as the pandemic.”
“It almost feels like there is a different scam for everyday of the year, but whilst scams come and go, the underlying reasons we fall for them doesn’t change. Recognising these can help us all avoid becoming scam victims.”
* Don’t be hasty. Scammers will try to scare you in to making a hasty decision, for example by suggesting your bank account is about to be emptied or your NHS number has been ‘suspended’.
* Don’t make a hurried decision. Take five minutes to think about what you are being asked to do. Talk to friends and family members before you act. If you think an approach is genuine, contact the business or organisation via a published telephone number or email address. Be very wary if you are asked to transfer money to a ‘safe’ account or pay by bank transfer or with gift cards or vouchers.
* Danger comes in many forms. Fraudsters masquerading as banks and other organisations need to appear plausible. The more they know about you, the more genuine they can appear.
* Avoid sharing sensitive personal or financial information on social media or in marketing related questionnaires, surveys and “prize draw” forms. Shred confidential information and protect your computer from viruses.
* What are the chances? Fraudsters are bombarding UK residents 24/7, hoping that one of their scams resonates. Many residents and businesses have fallen for email scams because they were expecting a genuine email at that very moment. Others have lost out because they were searching for a website to renew documentation – such as a driving licence – just as a scam website popped up on the screen.
* Even if you receive a communication that you are expecting, double check it first, especially if it involves the transfer of money. If you need to renew any government document, begin your search on the official government website: https://www.gov.uk/
* Pulling at our heart strings. Fraudsters can be very convincing, often using emotive language and stories to manipulate people. From romance fraud to bogus puppy sales, fraudsters want to target us with scams that we just can’t say no to.
* Don’t be rushed, take things slowly and trust your instincts.
* Sounds too good to be true. Fraudsters will often try to tempt us with scams that later appeared too good to be true. Financial frauds including bogus crypto currency investment ‘opportunities’ fall in to this category as do scam retail websites that tempt us with hard to find products such as PS5’s.
* It can easy to act hastily for fear of losing out, but the best way of avoiding these sorts of scams is to thoroughly research your investment or buying opportunity first. Read the reviews and find out what other people are saying. Don’t trust a single email or phone call.
What can I do if I’ve already been scammed?
Protect yourself from further risks. Contact your bank immediately, change any compromised passwords and virus check your computer.
Check if you can get your money back. Depending on how you paid the scammer, you might be able to get your money back. Speak to your bank.
Report the scam. This helps authorities stop the criminals and protects others from being scammed. Anyone who has been scammed should report the scam to:
Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133
Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Action Fraud will provide you with a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you’ve been scammed. It’s also important to talk about your experiences with family and friends. By letting them know what’s happened they can be prepared, and together we can put a stop to scams.
Find out more about scams and stay updated
* Warwickshire Trading Standards issues regular email scam alerts. To subscribe – mailchi.mp/warwickshire/scamawareness
* Recent scams, including those reported by Warwickshire residents – www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams
* The A to Z of fraud – www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud
* Protect yourself from internet scams – www.getsafeonline.org/
* Protect yourself form financial scams – www.fca.org.uk/consumers