How to Spot a Scam
Scams come in various different forms from letters, text messages, emails and phone calls and generally, they are schemes which aim to con you out of your money.
Scams can affect people of all ages and walks of life. It is a myth that only older people fall for and become victim to a scam. Too good to be true offers and ‘get rich quick’ schemes attract many people.
It is becoming more and more difficult to spot a scam as fraudsters move with the times, creating very realistic and convincing scams. Keep reading to questions we all should be asking when it comes to receiving suspicious phone calls and emails.
Always remember it is better to be over cautious.
Calls from unfamiliar companies?
A call from a company you haven’t previously contacted is the first sign that this could be a company to avoid. Act cautiously and ensure you are considering the following questions:
- Have you heard of the company before?
- Verify the callers identity
- Ask for specific company details e.g. your contract details, reference number or the amount of any payments you make.
If you cannot verify the caller’s identity, you should hang up the phone and call the named company directly from a different phone using the number on a letter or from their website.
Save the number of the incoming call and type it in on your search engine, if it a trickster, you can usually find forums whereby a similar event has occurred with others and they shared their experience. You will then know for sure never to answer that number again.
Have you been asked for personal details?
Never share any of your personal information with any company unless you can verify their identity and their company’s identity.
Most phishing emails and telephone scammers often try to obtain valuable personal details from you which can be used to steal your identity and in turn your money.
Does the deal sound too good?
These tricksters will make the product they are selling or offering seem too good to be true, for example, if you pay a small amount of money now you will receive a high return in the future. Use the rule that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
If you are being asked for money upfront this could be a sign that you someone is attempting to scam you.
Are you being pressured?
Is the person you are speaking to you making you feel like you have to make a quick decision especially when it comes to passing over financial information and details. No financial matter should be a decision that is made lightly and you certainly shouldn’t feel pressured into making that decision.
If it is a genuine sales person contacting you, on the whole they should be prepared to give you the space to make an informed and unrushed decision.
Beware of premium rate contact numbers
Premium rate phone numbers are numbers that generally start 09. These numbers can charge up to £3.60 per minute for the calls.
It is important that if you need to contact the company again that you get a non premium rate number so you are able to call the company back without it costing you a fortune.
Have you been asked not to share the information?
This should be the biggest red flag, if you are asked to keep something quiet or not share the information you are given then it is likely to be a scam.
Current Popular Scams
Some popular email scams around at the moment:
- HMRC Tax Rebate – Emails and text messages are currently doing the rounds to notify you that you are due a tax rebate from HMRC. The email or text will usually include an amount that is owed to you. HMRC have confirmed that they would never send notifications of tax rebate by email or text message, they would never ask for you to provide personal or payment information by email. They have also advised not to visit the website link from the email or text message.
- I Tunes Invoice Scam – Fake iTunes invoice emails have been doing the rounds intermittently. The emails will usually contain details including pictures of the iTunes product that has been purchased e.g. CD’s, Singles, Films, Games and Apps. You won’t remember buying these items, because you didn’t. They want you to assume it is an error so that you contact them – there is always a ‘handy’ link at the bottom of the email, once you access this you will be prompted to enter your apple log in details, the scammers can very easily obtain your credit card details. The way you can spot these scams is by the email subject –genuine apple invoices will have a subject of ‘Your receipt from Apple’ or ‘your invoice from Apple’. The scam email subjects will include an order number.
- Amazon Order Processing Issue Email – The email looks genuine and features the Amazon logo, it notifies you that there was an error in processing your order and asks you to log into your account to amend your details, by clicking a link in the email. When you do this you will be prompted to re-enter or amend details on your account. The scammer then has full access to both your personal and financial information.
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There is also free debt help and advice available through a variety of debt charities. For more information, we recommend you visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
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