A scam is when someone tricks you into giving them some money. The people who do this are called scammers. A scammer promises you something for the money you pay them. But you don’t get what they promised you. Scams can affect anyone, at any age, and happen online or in person. Lots of us are facing higher bills and worrying about money, and scammers are trying to take advantage of this.
There are 4 ways that scams happen:
• by post
• by phone
• using the internet
• someone coming to your door
We’ve seen time and again that scammers seek to exploit vulnerability - from the coronavirus pandemic to recessions, times of difficulty often see a corresponding increase in related scams. From what we’ve seen so far, the cost-of-living crisis seems to be no different. The increased financial pressures many are facing has put more people into difficult situations, facing issues such as debt or not being able to afford essential goods and services. Scammers are likely to exploit these, so empowering the public to protect themselves and others from scams will have heightened importance.
There are lots of different types of scams emerging. Some examples to look out for include:
Scammers pretending to be energy companies, luring people with “too good to be true” deals in order to steal their money
Fake sales representatives selling counterfeit shopping vouchers
Fraudsters sending out phishing emails pretending to offer an energy rebate or government support to obtain people’s personal information
With the cost-of-living crisis unfolding, consumers need to remain alert and protect themselves from these and other scams.
How to spot a scam
It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. They can and do affect anyone. Here are some of the main warning signs of scams to look out for:
● It seems too good to be true – like an email saying you’ve won a competition you don’t remember entering
● Someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
● You’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends
● You've been asked to pay for something urgently or in an unusual way – for example by bank transfer or gift vouchers
● You’ve been asked to give away personal information
How to protect yourself from scams
● Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. If someone pressures you, it's probably a scam
● Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online.
● Before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions
● Pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
● Be suspicious. Scammers can be very smart. They can appear like a trusted business or government official, have a professional website and say all the right things. Take your time to work out if this is a real organisation. Ask them for ID or contact the organisation on a number you know and trust
● Don’t click on or download anything you don’t trust
● Make sure your antivirus software is up to date
● Keep your online accounts secure by using a strong password and by adding a second step when you log in to your account - this is known as ‘two-factor authentication’. This makes it harder for scammers to access your accounts.
● If you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source
What to do if you have been scammed
Tell your bank straight away
Change any passwords you have
Report the scam
Reporting the scam
Call Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 (for England)
You can also report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
You can find all our information about scams on Citizens Advice website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ScamsAdvice/
You can sign up to see what the latest scams are one these websites:
www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/ Scam-Alert or www.actionfraud.police.uk