Scam alert!

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 to Action Fraud 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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