December is a time of year that fraudsters are on the lookout for the vulnerable even more so than other months. It may be a time when we could all do with a little extra cash and so may fall for a scammer. This month, I want to help you and hopefully avoid you from getting caught by one of the horrible organisations. I will be sharing a few tips on how to avoid the fraudsters and make sure you do not get caught.
Email is an easy way of enticing people to click onto a link and this may then take you to a site that may obtain personal data or intercept your email account. When receiving an email, never click on a link that you are not expecting, always check the full email address and not just the name shown, only trust email addresses you know. Never click on an attachment you are not expecting. You wouldn’t let a stranger into your home, and so don’t let them into your computer.
Just like emails, you can get caught through the use of texts. Sometimes you are told you are entitled to a refund; click this link and you can get your refund. This would never happen. Just like you would never click on a link in an email, don’t click on a link in a text message either.
You may get a phone call from someone telling you they are from your bank, police or from H.M. Revenue & Customs. They need you to confirm your bank details so that they are able to verify you and take you to the next stage. In these instances, tell them you will call them back at a more convenient time and hang up. It is best not to call them back straight away as sometimes they do not hang up and your phone line is left open. It is best to call them back the next day on a number you have for them and not a number they have given you.
I am sure we are all aware of someone who hunts for that Christmas present to make a child or grandchild happy Christmas morning. We search the internet high and low to find that present. I have to admit that this is what happened to me a few years ago, and yes, I did get scammed. I purchased a Christmas present for my boys and it just never arrived. I was scammed! Thankfully, I was able to claim on my credit card and they confirmed the company just did not exist. Thankfully, I was able to get all my money back. I did my homework and read the reviews on the company, they were based in the UK, they had good reviews and they seemed reliable. They were all fake reviews. From then on, I only buy locally or online from a reputable source.
Remember that overall if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is something you normally find with pension or investment scams, being able to buy a product and is impossible to find elsewhere (currently a play station 5). Trust your gut instinct.
Scammers during the pandemic
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of scams has increased. Examples are people providing financial help at this time, people being able to provide better health and protection against the virus. They may ask you for an upfront payment to cover the cost of shipping for only a small amount and they will send you some products for free. Again, I doubt you will ever see the products. There is no such thing as a ‘free deal’ and so trust your instinct.
Did you know that you are 20 times more likely to be a victim online than in the real world?
Did you know that over 65s are three times more likely to lose money to fraudsters than be burgled?
Please stay safe and share this article to protect yourself and protect others.
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Chantal Baker, is the director and founder of Champ Consultants Ltd, an accountancy and tax consultancy practice in Caterham. Please do follow us on the various