Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute are running a ‘Scams Awareness’ national campaign throughout July to highlight the dangers of scams by fraudsters including Pension Scams. The campaign urges people to follow a three-step rule: get advice, report it and tell others about it. More information on the campaign can be found on the Citizens Advice website.
Bogus investments cost victims an average of £20,000 each and range from fake diamonds, bogus stocks and shares and fine wines that don’t exist. Scammers use a variety of methods to get people to part with their cash, Citizens Advice have reported the following are the most common:
- Pensions – people are contacted out of the blue with offers of free “advice” on how to increase their investment as a way to tricking them out of their pension.
- Investment - victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back.
- Fake services - people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
- Vishing - con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details - for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills.
- Doorstep selling - victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
- Upfront payment or fee - fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
- Premium rate texts - victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
- Counterfeit goods - people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
- Goods not received - people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said:
“Scams can devastate people’s finances and leave them empty handed."
“Fraudsters vary their tactics to target different people, from pushing cut-price offers to those on a budget, to high-interest investments for those looking to grow their savings. We’re warning people to be on their guard against opportunities that come out of the blue and far exceed the deals you’d get elsewhere - they may well be a scam."
“If you think you’ve lost money to a scam, seek advice as soon as possible so you have the best chance of getting your money back. It’s vital that people who have fallen prey to fraudsters alert others to stop the scam from spreading, and report it to the authorities so we can stop con-artists from getting away with it."
What to do if you suspect a scam
Get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service 03454 04 05 06 who can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards.
Report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud:
0300 123 2040