Scam alert!

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Scams are everywhere (even banks and insurance companies can be guilty) but online scams are very common and, like a Norovirus, keep mutating into more and more sophisticated ones.

After all, there is a lot of money to be made and the chance of them being caught is slight.

Research commissioned by the OFT involving 11,200 interviews found that every year 1,388,000 UK consumers fall victim to prize draw and sweepstake scams, 400,000 to bogus holiday clubs, 330,000 to work at home scams, 200,000 to miracle health scams, 170,000 to clairvoyant and psychic scams, 110,000 to loan scams. The total annual bill amounts to over £3.5 billion

Most frequent :

  • The ever popular telephone scam. Typically these people say there is a virus on your computer.  When you look they point you to log files from something called an event viewer that displays normal system errors and they say they are viruses. They suggest you buy their software to clear the problem. It makes it worse and they now have your credit card details!

  • Advance fee – the Nigerian letter scam. (Send them cash and you will get millions. Just hand over your bank details)
  • Investment opportunities. (The Boiler Room Scams – YOU will get scalded)
  • You advertise something and you get an even better offer.  They send you a cheque but could you send them the difference.
  • Lotteries or prize draws. (You have WON ! even though you didn’t enter) They just need your bank details or a payment before you get the cash.
  • ‘Phishing’. Some are so convincing. You will get numerous emails from banks you may or may not have joined, all after details so they can rob you. A good email program should filter these out.
  • Pyramid selling and chain gift scheme. (All you have to do is recruit more mugs)
  • Work-from-home schemes (you pay THEM for the kit)
  • An email from a relative says they are stuck in some foreign part and can you send them some cash.
  • Various attempts to get the Pin or code of your credit/debit card. This may be by tampering with the ATM, a card reader in a shop or petrol station, or just looking over your shoulder.
  • There is a sophisticated one where you get a call from a Detective Inspector or your bank reporting that your card has been cloned and is being used. You are asked for your PIN to verify it is the card and are told your card will be replaced and a courier will pick up your old one. The caller may even keep you talking while your card is collected then used. One recent victim lost £7000.
  • Very commonplace: the distraction theft. Someone purporting to be an official gets into your home e.g. to check your water pressure/meter etc and goes off with a handbag etc

There is a site where you can report things But it is unlikely that anything will be done. But, if it is a credit card thing, try to get a refund from the finance company.

AgeUK do a downloaded leaflet


Have you ever been a victim of a scam?


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I am 81 years old and am passionate about computers, technology and the Internet and was the original founder of Silverhairs. I was Age UK's joint Internet Champion in 2012, and have spent the last 15 years, helping others to get up and running on computers. I was pleased, this year, to have been awarded an MBE for my voluntary work in this respect. I am profoundly deaf these days but get by with a cochlear implant. But computing puts me on a level playing field and keeping up with the technology is an excellent way to exercise the grey matter !

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27th Apr 2015
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I get constant emails claiming that (a small payment is being made into my account in the name of some company or other. If this is incorrect please check using the link below.) I have an email address that I just forward scam emails to run by the Metropolitan police. [email protected] . You register then they just send an acknowledgement each time you send one. I inadvertently sent one to the wrong address and it came back from mail site stating that it contained a Trojan virus.
20th Dec 2012
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Two of my daughters have had money taken. They both used the same petrol station ! I gather some card readers were even doctored before being sent from the factory! In one case the card details were used at a local bookies, either to 'launder' the cash or pay off the better's debts ! Always check your bank statements. Sometimes small amounts are taken so they are not noticed.
20th Dec 2012
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The one about the detective phoning was featured on TV this morning. At least they managed to track them down and they got 4 and five years in jail. Out in two years and no mention of them having their cash/cars/housesreclaimed to repay those who lost out
christine newall
20th Dec 2012
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Thank you very much about the information on scams. The one about a detective phoning was very useful, never heard this one. Thanks again and merry Christmas to you and all at silver hairs.
20th Dec 2012
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Thank you Christine and a very merry Christmas to you to and a Happy New Year ... The Silverhairs Team x
20th Dec 2012
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My debit card was cloned somehow. Someone in Tokyo managed to get £2,400 before the bank realised. I was lucky and the bank repaid it very quickly but I don't know where it happened although I do suspect the petrol station - it was the only different place I had been to.
Wendy Watts
20th Dec 2012
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My debit card was used and I didn't realise until my bank statement arrived . There were lots of small amounts spent but collectively they added up to nearly a thousand pounds !! Fortunately my bank acted quickly and reimbursed me quickly but if I hadn't checked my bank statement I might not have realised for quite some time . I have no idea how my debit number was obtained but I strongly urge everyone to check their statements .......
20th Dec 2012
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Glad you got it sorted rapidly. We all happily give our credit card details when purchasing goods online too, not that there are many options. At least the credit card companies security alert mechanism usually works.

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