By Pat Hutchinson, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB
You can lock your doors against thieves, but make sure you don’t fall victim to a scam - even in the safety and security of your own home. Here are some scams to look out for:
1. Doorstep scams are when someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of your money. Or a fraudster may pose as an official in order to access your home and steal money and valuables.
While there are many legitimate tradespeople and officials, it’s wise to be on your guard when you answer your door. Doorstep scammers can be pushy and persuasive and it can be easy to fall victim.
You don’t have to let any stranger into your home. Dial 999 if you’re suspicious or the caller won’t leave. Call the police non-emergency number 101 if you’re not in immediate danger but want to report an incident.
2. Courier scams - You are called on your landline by your bank and told that fraudsters have used your debit or credit card and it needs to be replaced. You call your bank, which confirms this. You are told to key in your pin number and hand over your card to a courier who will arrive soon. However, between receiving the call and dialling your bank you didn’t hear a dial tone and are actually still speaking to the scammers, who never disconnected the line
3. Virus hoax - You are called by “Microsoft Windows Support” and told your PC has a virus or is running slowly. The problem can be solved remotely if you give them your credit card details and/or remote access to your PC.
4. Telephone debt - You are called by “the courts ‘service” and told you have defaulted on a debt for an expensive telephone preference service. You are asked for immediate payment over the phone and warned you will be disconnected and face arrest or a court summons if you refuse to pay. If you hang up, the fraudster will stay on the line so you’ll think your line has been disconnected.
5. Fake dates - You join a dating website and are contacted by an extremely good looking potential date who lives abroad. After starting an online romance the scammer asks for money for emergency bills.
6. Bad investments - You are cold-called and offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest your life savings, for example in carbon credits, plots of land, fine wine or exclusive stocks and shares, which are certain to make you rich. Needless to say they are not.
7. Home maintenance services - A trader offers you a cheap quote to pave your patio or driveway, carry out home maintenance or gardening services, or repair “unsafe” roof tiles. They demand an up-front cash payment to start or finish the job - then scarper with the money or make unreasonable charges for botched work.
8. Loan arrangers - You are called or texted by a fraudster and invited to apply for a “guaranteed loan”. After you’ve given your personal information, including your bank details, you are told to pay an application fee.
9. PPI refunds - You are texted or called by someone claiming to be your bank, the Ministry of Justice, or a PPI company and told you are owed money in the form of mis-sold PPI payments - but you must pay an administration fee before the refund can be processed.
10. Unhealthy sales - You see an online advert for a free trial of slimming tablets or skin products. However, you unwittingly sign up for regular monthly payments which cannot be cancelled.
If you encounter any of the above scams you should report them to the following organisations: Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) or Consumerline (0300 123 6262) or log on to www.consumerline.org
• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to www.adviceguide.org.uk
Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org