We’ve all had them, letters through the mail guaranteeing us a substantial win and all we have to do is fill in the form, write them a cheque to cover their expenses, send it off and wait for the prize. Only you never get the prize as they’re just one example of the many scams that exist to trap the vulnerable and the unwary. And if it’s not the post the endless phone calls saying your computer is running slow and they can help but you have to give them your bank details. Have you ever been taking in by one of these schemes? Would you admit it if you had?
`The SAFER Project’ West Yorkshire Trading Standards, exists to help safeguard older people from scams and doorstep crime.
According to research by Citizens Advice, fraudsters cost UK consumers an estimated £10 billion a year, with the average person losing £2,500 to the various scams. Adding to the problem is the extremely low reporting rate of around 8%. Unfortunately, many people are simply too embarrassed to talk about falling victim to a scam, or may not realise that they have been scammed.
The SAFER Project at West Yorkshire Trading Standards is a BIG Lottery funded community protection and empowerment programme that aims to enable older people (55+) to spot and report scams by giving them the tools & knowledge needed to protect themselves. This video can tell you more about the project.
There are lots of scams doing the rounds and some specifically target older people. Scammers may contact you by letter, phone call, text message, email, social media and on the doorstep.
Here are some typical examples of scams:
Prize Draw Scams
These scams tell you that you have won a large sum of money or a significant prize, but you need to send a “processing”, “admin” or “release” fee to claim it. Alternatively, you may be required to call a premium rate telephone number, starting with 09, which could cost much more than expected.
Scammers send you literature selling a variety of different products including food, beauty products and items for the home or garden. They guarantee prizes when you place an order, but they never send the prize. Instead, they send more false promises to get you to order more. These scams are known to be operating out of the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland.
These scammers have no idea who will be reading their letters, but show false concern and pretend they are going to a lot of trouble to give you good health, wealth and happiness. They weave some tall stories, including performing rituals.
- Investment Scams
Fraudsters are offering a wide range of professional-looking scam investment opportunities, including fine art, wine, diamonds, shares and land. Remember: never be rushed and always check the credentials of the company with the FCA on 0300 500 8082 or online at http://scamsmart.fca.org.uk/.
- Rogue Traders
These are dishonest tradespeople who often turn up unannounced. They may leaflet your area before calling on your doorstep and often offer roofing, gardening and handyperson jobs. The work may be unnecessary, done to a poor standard and overpriced. Remember to obtain 3 written quotes before choosing a trader, don’t pay any money upfront, particularly in cash, and only pay for work once you are satisfied with the job.
- Bogus Callers
These are people who try to con their way into your home to steal or trick you out of money. They often pretend to be from a professional company such as your energy or water provider or the council. They may say they are conducting a survey or pretend to be an old friend. It’s best to use a door chain, spyhole or look through a window to identify the caller before opening your door. When checking ID, remember to call the genuine number from your bill or phonebook rather than the number they give you.
For more information on the latest scams and frauds, visit:
- SAFER Facebook page: facebook.com/SAFERProject
- Trading Standards twitter page: twitter.com/wytradstandards
- Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/scams/
- Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Top tips to avoid scams and doorstep crime
- Keep personal details safe. They could be used fraudulently in the wrong hands. Remember not to give your banking information or PIN to anyone.
- Research the credentials of the company. Be certain they’re not bogus.
- Be wise to rogue traders. Too good to be true offers probably are!
- Don’t feel pressured to make a decision. Don’t be afraid to say “No”.
- Talk to someone you trust if you’re suspicious.
- Register with the Telephone Preference Service. You can register your landline and mobile numbers to stop unsolicited UK marketing calls by calling 0345 070 0707 or online at www.tpsonline.org.uk – it’s free!
- Consider a call blocking device. These devices attach to your landline phone to block nuisance calls. Devices are available from high street stores.
- Know you are not alone. Anyone can be a victim, report it and get the right support.
If the worse does happen you can still get help and help others:
Citizens Advice: 0345 404 0506 Citizens Advice website
Action Fraud: 0207 291 3310 Action Fraud website
REPORT bogus callers & traders:
At your door? Police: 999
After incident? Non-Emergency Police: 101
REPORT companies & charities:
Trading Standards via Citizens Advice: 0345 404 0506 Citizens Advice website
Charity Commission 0300 066 9197 Charity Commission website
GET HELP with advice and support:
Get Safe Online https://www.getsafeonline.org/
Victim Support 0300 303 1971 Victim Support website
Silver Line 0800 470 8090 Silver Line website