Any one of us can be targeted by a scam or fall victim to a scam. In fact, it is estimated that as UK consumers, we send an estimated 9 billion pounds to scammers and fraudsters every year.
Scams are tricks used by dishonest people who try and con you out of your money. They come in many different disguises such as letters saying you have won the lottery, emails saying you are owed a tax refund or phone calls offering a free boiler. Often, the scams ask you to pay an admin fee for their service or request that you send them your bank details and personal information. Almost always, these scams are unsolicited and turn up out of the blue:
• in a letter
• over the telephone
• on your doorstep
• in the street
• via the internet/ email
• in a text message
Once you have responded to a scam it is very likely that your personal information such as your phone number and address are sold onto other scammers who will start to contact you as well. Because of this some people end up receiving over 100 pieces of scam mail per week and up to 20 scam telephone calls or text messages each day.
Most scammers live outside of the UK so that they cannot be found or prosecuted, so if you do send money to a scam it is highly unlikely that you will get it back.
Visit the Citizens Advice website for further advice on what to do if you think you have lost money to a scam and how you would report it. You can also contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline direct on 03454 04 05 06.
The following services are available to help reduce UK based nuisance telephone calls and scam mail:
If you live in West Yorkshire, you can access services from The SAFER Project, a Big Lottery Funded education and prevention initiative dedicated to helping protect older and vulnerable residents in West Yorkshire from becoming scam and doorstep crime victims.
The project also provides free home safety toolkits for residents who are at risk of becoming a scam victim and runs a campaign called ‘Don’t Get Hung Up, Hang Up’ which involves installing call blocking devices in the homes of our most vulnerable residents. Visit the SAFER project page to find out more and how you could get involved.
Top Tip: Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true - it probably is!
More top tips on how to protect yourself from scams and frauds in general can be found on the Citizens Advice website as well information on how to avoid online scams.