Which, the consumer watchdog, recently announced some worrying news -
five million of the UK population have suffered as a result of
fraudsters and consequently lost some money - are we such obvious targets?
The best way to avoid a fraudster is to see them coming - so we have put
together a list of the most common scams and what you can do to make
sure it's not you that loses out:
The lottery prize letter/email
A very common one. You get a letter in the post or an email
congratulating you on winning a prize on a lottery that you, as far as
you can remember, never entered. To get the prize you either have to pay
an admin fee or call a premium rate phone number for at least six
minutes to find out what prize you won.
Tens of thousands of people fall for this scam on a weekly basis -
there's no big prize, it's just a lie.
The "can you help me release this money that is frozen in a dead
person's account" scam.
Anyone with a web-based email account (ie Yahoo or Hotmail) will have
seen this a number of times. It usually involves a long winded email
explaining how someone died in a plane/train/car etc accident and they
have a large amount of money tied up in an account - with your help and
your UK bank account they would be able to access the money and you
would get a percentage. The money is always held in a third world
country, usually in Africa.
Once you have given them the details they have asked for, it's time for
the next stage - where you start parting with cash. They are ready to
transfer the money to you, but you will have to pay thousands of pounds
to cover the administration/legal costs to get the payment authorised.
The details are different on every scam, but the general gist is
surprisingly consistent on all the scams.
There are two things you can be sure of: the payment (ie your ‘cut')
won't ever arrive and you will never see the money you paid out for the
transfer ever again. Once you have proved yourself to be gullible enough
to have transferred the money in the first place, they will start asking
you for more. The story will go: the money needed upfront has gone up,
if you don't pay the extra the whole transfer will be cancelled and the
initial payment you made will be lost. It looks like a catch 22
situation but it isn't, whatever you do, you will lose all the money you
give to them.
These emails come into the inboxes of millions of people every month -
read it for a laugh, but delete it afterwards.
Boiler Room fraud
For this scam, fraudsters target middle-aged professional people who
have a low level of investment experience. In the first place, the
criminals look at the share registers of UK quoted companies to get
details of small shareholders. The next step is to contact the victims
either on the phone or via email to try and sell them shares in
companies they have never heard of, promising excellent returns on their
investment. They even offer people shares on companies that don't exist.
The same basic scam comes in many different guises, from currency
investment to stock options and everything in between.
The best way to immediately identify a fraudulent offer is to request
their Financial Services Authority (FSA) registration number so you can
check that they are a valid company. UK law stipulates that all
companies that sell stocks and shares and other investments are
registered to the FSA, and regulated by them. If they refuse to supply a
registration number then hang up, they are fraudsters. If they do
provide a number then check them out by calling the FSA's helpline on
0845 606 1234, they will check to see if the company is genuine or not.
Don't even consider agreeing to anything without making this check
first, the vast majority of these phone calls will be scams, as many as
9 out of 10 in fact - so be aware.
Now that we do everything by PIN number, credit card fraud has decreased
significantly. However, it has not been stamped out completely.
Fraudsters only need a copy of the numbers on your card and they can buy
what they want on the Internet, because online purchases utilise a "card
holder not present" system.
If someone gets hold of your details they can buy expensive goods, have
them delivered and then sell them on. You will lose your money.
There are ways to combat this - you can sign up for "Verified by Visa"
or "Mastercard Secure Code" - for more details visit
www.getsafeonline.org and www.cardwatch.org.uk.
Email from your bank asking to confirm your details
This is known as ‘Phishing'. It's another very common scam, often seen
by people with web-based email accounts. It's the fraudster's way of
trying to get you to disclose your bank details, security codes and PIN
numbers so they can run off with the cash.
You'll receive an email from your bank, or in fact, any bank. It will
say that for security reasons you need to send them your account details
so they can confirm them against their information. It puts the pressure
on by saying that if you don't reply, your account will be suspended.
It's a huge scam, no Bank would ever try to contact customers in this
way, especially not to confirm security details.
If your Bank ever did need for you to provide them with any information,
they would call or write to you and ask you to come in person to a Branch.
Identity Theft - taking people's identities from the dustbin
Someone's identity is stolen every four minutes in this country -
unbelievable, but true!
All someone needs to steal your identity is a utility bill (ie gas,
electric etc) and a credit card or bank statement. Fraudsters take these
from bins, so be careful with your rubbish! It would be wise to shred
all of your bills and documents that contain that kind of information.
Once they've got your personal details they can go and get a credit card
and open up bank accounts using your identity. No doubt they will build
up debt and use the accounts for criminal activities - and it will all
be traced back to you.
Watch out for these scams, they are real and happening to many people
Scrouge Online specialise in providing access to Life Assurance Quotes, Cheap Mortgage
Quotes and Secured Personal
Loans along with a comprehensive information resource covering all
of their product areas.