Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
7:03 PM 13th September 2021

Take Five To Stop Fraud Week

Over the last few months, over 50% of scams were carried out on people in my age group. In case you are wondering, that is the over 50s.

What is worrying, however, is that most people say they are confident that it would not happen to them.

The best way to protect yourself is to know what to look out for. Here are some of the tricks that scammers are using right now.

Email, text and phone scams
Emails, texts and even phone numbers can be made to look like they are from companies you are already dealing with. They may ask for account details or for remote access to your computer.

If you’ve been contacted unexpectedly, always treat it as suspicious and avoid clicking on the links. To be completely sure, call the company on a trusted number you’ve found online.

Only scammers will try to rush or panic you. If you get a call claiming to be from the bank or the police and they want you to move money, it is a scam!

Cloned companies and investment scams
Well-known companies can be cloned so that documents and websites look like the real thing. Scammers may get in touch with you if you’ve been researching shares and bonds online so beware of any unexpected messages.

Go to the FCA website to look for warnings. If the company is genuine, you can contact them in confidence using their registered details. Also, speak to someone you trust or your financial adviser.

Social media scams
Social media adverts for goods, tickets, holidays, even crypto-currency, could be fake. They may look and sound legitimate but the link could take you to a bogus website.

Remember that social media accounts can be hacked and your friends and family could be impersonated. If you receive any messages out of the blue asking for money, phone the person first.

Buying online
Fake adverts can still be found on legitimate buying and selling websites. Be careful when shopping for clothes, designer items and gym or music equipment. Always use a debit card, credit card or the website’s recommended payment service, as this could give you more protection than a bank transfer.

If you can, view the item in person first to make sure it exists, especially if it is an expensive item, like a car.

Romance scams
Alarm bells should ring if you’re looking to get to know someone from a dating website but they always have an excuse not to meet in person.

Scammers will play on your emotions to get you to send cash, often using a family emergency or an overseas crisis. Never send money to someone you have never met in person and do your research to make sure they are who they say. Speak to someone you trust first.

Latest scam – voicemail texts
Text messages are being sent by scammers all the time. The latest text scam tells you to click the link to listen to a new voicemail.

Clicking on it could infect your phone with a virus, and you may be asked to download an app or give account information. This could give scammers access to your account, so be very careful.

Never click on links that you are unsure about.

Take Five
Always take a moment or two to stop and check when you receive a message or phone call, even from companies you already deal with.

Could it be fake? Are they asking you for personal information or money?

Remember, you can always ask someone you trust for advice.

Stop. Challenge. Protect.