Action Fraud is supporting Citizens Advice and Trading Standards in running a Scams Awareness Month to urge people to ‘spot scams to stop scams’.
According to the Office of Fair Trading almost half of us (48%) are targeted by scams costing individuals a total of £3.5 billion a year.
Throughout the whole of May Citizens Advice Bureaux and Trading Standards across England and Wales will be reminding people that scams come in all shapes and sizes including adverts, people knocking on your door, emails, letters, phone calls, texts and over the internet.
An analysis of the Citizens Advice scams scanner – which has tracked cons since 2007 - revealed fraudsters are targeting people who have fallen on hard times with offers of phoney jobs, training and debt scams.
These scams which have emerged during the recession are:
Training and job ploys: paying for a phantom training course with the false promise of a job or working on a commission basis only to find the firm is a fake and they don’t make any money.
Dangerous debt help: offers of loans or help to clear debts which carries an upfront fee but they never get a loan or help to sort out their debts.
Some signs of a scam
- The call, letter, e-mail or text has come out of the blue.
- You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about .
- You didn’t buy a ticket – so can’t win.
- They are asking you to send money in advance.
- They are saying you have to respond quickly, so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide.
- They are telling you to keep it a secret.
- They seem to be offering you something for nothing.
- If it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
How to protect yourself
- Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
- Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to businesses that should already hold your details.
- Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.
- If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No thank you.”
- Resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
- Never send money to someone you don’t know.
- Walk away from job adverts that ask for money in advance.
- Ask friends, neighbours or family about whether an offer is likely to be a scam.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: “Scammers have never had it so good as they exploit difficult economic times. For most people the recession has been really tough but it’s a different story for rogues and tricksters as they’ve cashed in on other people’s misfortune. We’re seeing people who have been dealt a double blow by losing their job and then losing money while trying to find a new one"
You can download a handy checklist from CAB with advice on dealing with scams.
If you are victim of a scam you can report it to us and receive a police crime reference number, call 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.