Every year, the British public loses billions of pounds to fraudsters who bombard us with online, mail, door-to-door and telephone scams.
Fraud (also known as scamming) is when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person. – Action Fraud UK.
Whether it’s at the online checkout, tradesmen at your door or a letter or phone call you have received, always check the legitimacy of the company/individual and always ensure the security of your personal information.
We recommend you read the ‘little book of big scams’ which was created by the Metropolitan Police to help you increase your awareness of the vast array of scams that are being used, and teach you some easy steps you can take to protect yourself.
Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials.
Many frauds start with a phishing email. Remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine. You can always call your bank using the phone number on a genuine piece of correspondence, website (typed directly into the address bar) or the phone book to check if you’re not sure.
Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring to prevent malware issues and computer crimes.
Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it.
Always shield your PIN and be vigilant at cash machines and checkouts. Don’t ever send it over the internet or disclose it to anyone. Your bank or the police will never phone or email you to ask you to disclose it.
Shop only on secure websites. Before submitting card details, look for a padlock or an unbroken key symbol on your web browser. Also check that the internet browser address changes from ‘http’ to https’ to indicate you have a secure connection.
When you are talking to people on social media, chat rooms or dating sites, make sure you know who it is you are talking to and never ever pass on personal or financial information to them online.
Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers.
Check receipts against bank statements regularly. If you find an unfamiliar transaction contact your bank or card company immediately.
Shred or completely destroy all documents which contain personal details and don’t keep such documents in your car or handbag.
When buying tickets online check with the venue to find out when they are being released and sent out. Also check that you know the geographic address of the website company and that they have a working landline phone number. Make sure there is a refund policy in case something goes wrong.
When dealing with tradesmen never hand over a cash deposit. Be wary of special offers or warnings about your home and don’t agree to a trader starting any work straight away. Take time to consult with someone you trust for a second opinion, and speak to friends, family or neighbours before making any decision.
Don’t be rushed into making a decision you are not comfortable with. Fraudsters use pressure to force you to make an unwise decision, this could be by saying it is a limited time offer or that money is needed due to an emergency. Be confident to tell people that you require time to think over a decision and then discuss it with a friend or family member.
Many national media outlets often broadcast fraud trends and information and advice, check out BBC Radio 4 You and Yours and Finance programmes . The Guardian and Telegraph online Finance and Technology sections are also very useful sources of up to date information surrounding fraud. Information about the common types of fraud in North Yorkshire can be read here. By reporting a fraud or scam, we will be able to warn other people and minimise the chances of it spreading any further.
Scammers are quick to identify new ways of conning people out of their money. You must report all incidents of fraud to Action Fraud UK and not to the police. Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
You can also follow Action Fraud on twitter, to keep up to date on trending frauds and for more information and advice @actionfrauduk.
Protective registration service
If you have a good reason to believe that your details may be used by a fraudster, we recommend you sign up for the Protective Registration service, run by CIFAS which is a not-for-profit fraud prevention association. The service allows individuals to seek protection against possible impersonation attempts. Other members of CIFAS dealing with requests for credit or other services from someone who has taken out Protective Registration will be alerted to the need for caution. If fraud is identified, they are encouraged to report the matter to the police.
To apply for Protective Registration call 0330 1000 180.