Other types of scams

Here are examples of how some other common scams work and some suggestions on how to avoid them.

How does the scam work?

Doorstep scammers commonly target older people.  They take place when someone comes to your door and tries to scam you out of your money or tries to gain access to your home.

Doorstep scammers aren't always pushy and persuasive, they may seem polite or friendly. So if you're not expecting someone, it's important to be vigilant when you answer the door, especially if you live on your own.

Rogue traders: A cold-caller may offer you a service you don’t really need. They may claim to have noticed something about your property that needs work or improvement, such as the roof, and offer to fix it for cash or an inflated price.

Bogus officials: People claim to be from your utility company as a way of gaining access to your home. Always check the ID of any official, and if they're genuine they won't mind waiting while you check.

Fake charity collections: A fraudster may pretend they're from a charity and ask you to donate money, clothes or household goods. Legitimate charities will all have a charity number that can be checked on the Charity Commission website. 

Made-up consumer surveys: Some scammers ask you to complete a survey so they can get hold of your personal details, or use it as a cover for persuading you to buy something you don’t want or need.

Hard luck stories: Someone may come to your door and ask you to help them out with cash, ask to use your telephone or claim they're feeling unwell. The story is made up and intended to con you out of your money or gain access to your home.

Tips to stay safe

If someone does come to the door, it's important to remember the following:

  • Only let someone in if you're expecting them or they're a trusted friend, family member or professional. Don’t feel embarrassed about turning someone away.
  • Don’t feel pressured. Don’t agree to sign a contract or hand over money at the door. Think about it and talk to someone you trust.
  • Check their credentials. You should always check someone's credentials - a genuine person won't mind. You can phone the company they represent or check online, but never use contact details they give you.
  • Don’t share your PIN. Never disclose your PIN number or let anyone persuade you to hand over your bank card or withdraw cash.
  • Call the police. Call the police non-emergency number 101 if you’re not in immediate danger but want to report an incident. But call 999 if you feel threatened or in danger.
  • Take the time to think about any offer, even if it’s genuine. Don’t be embarrassed to say ‘No’ to people or ask them to leave

Other ways deter this type of scam:

  • Putting up a deterrent sign. You could put a ‘no cold callers’ sign up on your door or window, which should deter any cold callers from knocking on your door.
  • Setting up passwords for utilities. You can set up a password with your utility companies to be used by anyone they send round to your home. Phone your utility company to find out how to do this.
  • Nominating a neighbour. Find out if you have a nominated neighbour scheme where a neighbour can help to make sure if callers are safe.

How does the scam work?

Fraudsters send scam emails and SMS-messages that promise tax rebates to trick people into disclosing their account and personal details.

The messages are usually sent when HMRC are processing tax rebates at the end of the tax-year.

HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer. All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam.

Many of these fraudulent emails and texts include links which take the user to dubious websites where their information can be stolen.

If you haven’t paid the right amount at the end of the tax year, HMRC will post you a tax calculation. This can be a P800 or a Simple Assessment letter. If you have paid too much tax, the letter will explain how you can get your refund paid to you. If you have not paid enough tax, the letter will tell you how much you owe and how you can pay.

Tips to stay safe

  • Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details
  • Stay safe - do not give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on 
  • links in emails you weren’t expecting
  • Take action - forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use its online fraud reporting tool

How does the scam work?

You're called by a representative of a broadband or telecoms provider. You may even hold an account with them.

They tell you there’s an issue with your PC and will request remote access to fix it.

They’ll say you’re due compensation for the inconvenience, and will ask you to log on to your internet bank.

Then they claim they made a mistake - they’ve paid you too much.

What they’ll actually have done is transferred money from your savings account to make it look like a refund has credited your current account. You won’t know this and they’ll then ask you to transfer the overpayment of the ‘refund’ back to them.

You’re now using your own security details to send your own money to them and just like that, a large sum of your money is gone.

Tips to stay safe

  • Don't allow yourself to be rushed into allowing remote access.
  • Be sure who you are dealing with
  • Never log on to your internet bank account while allowing someone remote access to your device.

How does the scam work?

A fraudster will contact you unexpectedly, about an investment opportunity with investments that will make you money.

They may ask you to invest in something like wine, diamonds or alternative energy.

But the investment does not exist and you won’t see any return on any money you put in.

There will usually be time-limits to make you think you have to act quickly eg offer you a bonus if you invest before a set date.

They may tell you about high returns on your investment or interest rates that are higher than those available on the high street.

Tips to stay safe

Always visit the Financial Conduct Authority's Scamsmart website which offers a warning list, so you can check the risks of a potential investment.

You can also search to see if the company that has contacted you is known to be operating without authorisation.

If the returns appear too good to be true – they probably are!

Politely end the call – if the calls persist, consider blocking the number.

How does the scam work?

The rules on private pensions changed in 2015, and people over 55 now have greater access to their pension pots. But there are criminals that want to take advantage of this. Here are some tips on how to keep your pension pot safe.

Fraudsters will contact you out of the blue by phone, text or email try different ways to persuade you to part with your pension cash - from promising opportunities that are simply too good to be true, to giving you false information.  They might:

  • claim to know about loopholes that can help you get more than the usual 25% tax-free
  • offer high returns investments
  • offer a ‘loan’, ‘saving advance’ or ‘cashback’ from your pension
  • suggest you put all your money in a single investment (in most circumstances, a financial adviser will suggest you spread your money across different schemes)
  • send paperwork to your door by courier requiring an immediate signature
  • say they'll help you access your pension pot before the age of 55 (unless you’re seriously unwell or have a certain type of scheme, this isn’t legally possible)
  • pressure you into making a decision quickly
  • only have a mobile phone number and/or a PO box address as contact details.

Tips to stay safe

If you’re planning to take your pension early, check whether there will be any penalties. If it’s a workplace pension, you may need your employer’s agreement to do so.

Pension scams are serious. You could lose some, if not all, your pension savings, or end up with a large tax bill (there can be high charges if you withdraw your pension savings early).

If you’re considering investing your pension pot, talk to an adviser regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Find an independent financial adviser through Unbiased.co.uk

Check the FCA's register of firms, individuals or financial services

Check the FCA's list of unauthorised firms and individuals

Use the FCA's Warning List tool to check the risks associated with an investment opportunity

How does the scam work?

This type of scam happens when you meet someone new online.

Dating websites lead to many relationships, however, they also have a 

darker side, where people are mis-lead by fraudsters posing as a potential love match.  They will earn your trust and you could develop strong feelings.

What if the person you’d been talking to, claimed to be falling in love with you, but then explained they needed money from you to:

a) visit you

b) get out of trouble

c) get medical help

d) all of the above

Fraudsters often seize on circumstances in a person’s life that can make them especially at risk. For example, they might see that the person has been divorced or bereaved and build that into their own story to create a bond.

Innocent people are losing thousands of pounds through this kind of scam.

Tips to stay safe

Get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions – don’t rush into an online relationship.

Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly-used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.

Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.

Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them.

Don’t the person until you’re confident they are who they say they are.

How does the scam work?

This scam involves people getting unknowingly involved with helping fraudsters move around stolen money – you effectively become a 'money mule'.

You'll see what looks like a genuine job, advertised online, on email or on social media. It’ll look like a great opportunity to earn some easy money for a few hours of work every week. But any earnings you receive could be money earned from crime.

If you get involved, it could result in criminal prosecution, your account being frozen, and your information being shared with other banks as someone who cannot be trusted, which will make banking difficult for you.

Students and young people are particularly targeted.

Tips to stay safe

A genuine company will never ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money.

Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this.

Be especially wary of job offers from people or companies overseas - it will be harder for you to find out if they are genuine.

Never give your financial details to someone you don’t know and trust.

How does the scam work?

There are three main types of cheque fraud:

Counterfeit – a cheque that has been created on non-bank paper to look genuine. It relates to a genuine account, but has actually been created and written by a fraudster for the purposes of committing fraud.

Forgery – a genuine cheque, however the signature is not that of the account holder. The fraudster has forged the 

signature by signing the cheque themselves.

Fraudulently altered – a genuine cheque made out by the genuine customer but it has been altered by a fraudster before it has been paid in (eg by altering the recipient’s name on the cheque or the amount. It is no longer a genuine cheque).

Tips to stay safe

Here at the Furness, cheques made payable to the Society must include details of the account holder(s) or the account number (for example, Furness Building Society, Mrs J Smith) otherwise we will not accept them for payment you’re your account.

Here are some other suggestions to protect you:

  • Never accept a cheque unless you know and trust the person. Be especially wary when accepting a high–value cheque eg if you are selling a car.
  • Always complete cheques using a ballpoint pen.
  • Draw a line through all unused spaces, including after the payee name.
  • You can be sure that at the end of the 6th day after you have paid the cheque in to your account, the money is yours and there is no risk that the money could be reclaimed IF the cheque turns out to be stolen, fraudulently altered or counterfeit.
  • It is safer to ask for payment for high–value items to be made by other means (an internet or phone banking payment or a CHAPS payment).
  • Keep your chequebook in a safe place, report any missing cheques to your bank immediately and always check your bank statement thoroughly.

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