According to Financial Fraud Action UK, in 2016 financial fraud losses totalled £768.8 million. Whilst banks might bear the brunt of this fraud, every day there are ordinary people like us, our parents and our loved ones falling victim to fraud. Here are some common scams and how to avoid them.
Calling from your bank
This scam works by a fraudster ringing you and pretending to be from your bank. They may ask for your password or pin, or ask you to transfer money into a different bank account. A genuine bank or other financial organisation will never ask for your pin, your password in full (they may ask for certain letters or digits from your password) and would not ask you to transfer money into another account.
If you are unsure if the caller is from your bank or another financial institution like your credit cards then you can hang up and ring them using the phone number on the back of your card. This way you know you are contacting the people you need to speak to.
Check your emails and texts carefully
This scam works by fraudsters sending you emails or texts that look like they are from a company you might know and trust. Often it could be your bank, Amazon or Paypal. These emails and texts encourage you to click a link, which can lead to a few different outcomes. They could spoof the login page for the website you usually use, so you are tricked into putting in your username and password, which the fraudsters now have access to. Another alternative is that by clicking the link you are then installing a keylogger onto your device, meaning the fraudsters can have access to everything you type in the future, including usernames and passwords.
To avoid this scam make sure that you don’t click on any links in emails and texts, instead go to the homepage of the company and log in that way.
You’re about to get a massive inheritance
This scam works by the fraudster emailing you pretending to be someone who is about to get a large inheritance or they are about to pass away and they want to give you lots of money. This one sounds too good to be true because it is! Instead the fraudster is trying to get hold of your banking details, or they want you to ‘lend’ them some money before their large inheritance is released.
Avoid this scam by marketing the emails as spam and deleting them.
Sell something on eBay for me
You see a job advert looking for someone to sell items on eBay – usually computers or smartphones. The job has a very decent rate of pay and all you need to do is use your eBay account to list the items. You then get paid for the items, send the payment to the fraudster whilst keeping a cut for yourself. A nice job!
However, this is a scam. What happens is that the items are never sent to the buyer, so eBay and Paypal refund the buyer. You have already sent the majority of the money on to the fraudster, so you are left out of pocket.
Avoid this scam by remembering that if a job looks too good to be true, it usually is. Whilst there are real people out there who need help selling on eBay, make sure you have the items in front of you to sell and post out yourself.
The oversees landlord scam
This scam works by advertising properties to rent at a great price. When you get in contact with the fraudster posing as the landlord they then concoct a story about how they are working abroad right now, and in order to secure a viewing and show that you are serious, they want you to send a deposit via Western Union. The fraudster then has your money, and the property they are advertising isn’t even their own.
To avoid this scam then remember if it seems to good to be true then it probably is. Make sure that you don’t part with any money before viewing a property, and try to use a letting agent. If you want to avoid paying the high fees that letting agents charge tenants then you can use OpenRent to find your next rental property.
I want to buy your item but I live far away
You have advertised an item for sale online, and a potential buyer gets in touch. During the conversation they say that they want to buy the item and will pay more to get it couriered to them, letting you keep whatever money is left over. In itself this isn’t a scam – plenty of people see items they want online and can’t come and pick it up.
In the scam you will receive an email that looks as though it has come from Paypal, telling you that you have received the payment. You might then post the item or arrange a courier, however the email from Paypal has usually been falsified, and you haven’t received any money. Another alternative to this is that they will pay you a large amount extra and ask you to return the extra money – for example if you were selling something for £80 the email they send that looks as though it has come from Paypal will say that they have sent £800. You then send them £720 back and you are left out of pocket.
Avoid this scam by trusting your gut instinct, and logging into Paypal yourself to see if you have been paid the money. If something still doesn’t feel right then you can send them a refund via Paypal itself (there is a refund button on every transaction).