A scam is attempted every 6 seconds in the UK. Last year 5 million of us fell victim to scams and it cost us £9 billion.
There was a 72% increase in the amount lost due to on-line and telephone banking scams compared to 2014.
The more we are aware of scams, the better we are able to avoid them, or help family and friends to deal with them.
Spotting a scam – Scams can arrive by post, phone call, text message, e-mail or from someone on your doorstep when you’re not expecting them. What can you do?
- If you’re phoned out of the blue and not convinced of the caller’s identity – hang up.
- Scams often promise high financial returns for little financial commitment. If the deal you’re offered seems to be too good to be true. It will be.
- If you’re asked to share personal details with someone you don’t know – don’t do it
- Scammers will try to pressure you to rush your decision and respond quickly. Don’t proceed unless you’re sure your money’s safe
- Scammers sometimes use bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Don’t respond to requests like this
Most common types of scam
- Building work scams
- Financial and prize-draw scams
- Computer and on-line scams
- Energy scams (doorstep electricity meter credit)
- Holiday club and time-share scheme scams
- Property rental scams
- Subscription traps
- Miracle health cures
Preventing someone who is vulnerable from being scammed
Anyone can fall victim to a scam, but some are more likely to be targeted. If you are a relative, carer or friend of someone who is vulnerable, look out for the following:
- If they receive a lot of junk mail
- Have a house full of cheap-looking jewellery or health products
- Get frequent calls from strangers
- Become secretive when discussing finances with you
What can you do to help?
People are often embarrassed to admit that they have fallen for a scam or don’t believe they have been conned. You can reassure them that it’s a common problem, that scammers are clever and that all sorts of people get taken in by them. Suggest that:
- They never give out their name, address, bank account details or any other personal information
- They speak to you, or another person they trust, before replying to any offer
- They don’t ring any number they are given to claim a prize
- They never send any money to anyone to claim a prize
- You help them to ask Royal Mail to re-direct their post, either to you or another trusted friend or relative
- You help them to sign up to the free Telephone Preference Service (0845 070 0707 or go to tpsonline.org.uk) which cuts down on unwanted phone calls and texts.
- You help them to sign up for free Mailing Preference services (0845 703 4599 or go to mpsonline.org.uk) which cuts down unwanted post
Report a scam
- Report a scam to Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk tel 0300 123 2040) They have a special service for carers to report scams on behalf of a vulnerable victim, who must be under 17 or have a mental health problem or learning difficulty or have a physical disability.
- Suggest the victim talks to their local neighbourhood watch scheme, or to a relative, friend or social worker.
- Land Registry information on property fraud can be found at gov.uk
- Trading Standards deal with complex consumer problems and potential criminal activities. If you want to report a problem to Trading Standards you should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service (tel 03454 04 05 06) who share information reported to them with Trading Standards
If I’ve been scammed, can I get my money back?
- Payment by credit or debit card – you may be able to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (items costing between £100 and £30,000 paid for by credit card) or by using Chargeback (items costing under £100 paid for by either credit or debit card) in instances where you have paid for goods which were never available or where the ‘seller’ has disappeared.
- Unauthorised transactions – transactions on your card which have been made without your permission. The Payment Services Regulations 2009 place an obligation on banks and building societies to provide a refund.
- Bank Transfers – If you have been caught by a scam which has resulted in you transferring money to another bank account, contact your bank immediately so they can try to recover the funds. A police crime number should help the process.
- Money Transfer Scams – If you’ve handed over cash or paid via a wire service like Western Union, Money Gram or Pay Point, it’s unlikely that you will get your money back.
- Responding to e-mails – If you send money in response to a scam e-mail you will be regarded as authorising the transaction and will not be able to get the money back.
In addition to the sources of help quoted above, you can access a comprehensive range of information on scams and consumer issues, work, benefits, debt and money, relationships, housing, law and rights, education, discrimination, tax and healthcare by visiting: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk (webchat now available), or you can e-mail a question via our website at https://casws.org.uk/get-advice/forms/ . Alternatively, you can call 0344 848 7969 Monday to Friday to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face to face at Village Way Cranleigh 10.00 – 4.00 Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.