Beat the scammers, don’t let your loved one become a victim
Scammers have become more sophisticated in their bid to part us from our cash. From email scams and copycat websites to nuisance calls and tax rebate scams, we need our wits about us.
Quite a common tactic for the scammer is to try to impersonate a person or company of importance over the phone, such as the bank or utility company, or even a government department or another trusted company. We should try and advise elderly relatives to hang up the phone if they’re not expecting the call.
We have all received those phone calls that ‘tell you’ that you have been involved in an accident and that a huge pay-out is heading its way to you. This is a scam. You have not been involved in an accident and they have obtained your details from somewhere and they want to draw you in to accessing further information about you.
So, how did the scammers get your details?
Did you know…..
- Every time you fill out a competition form, warranty registration card or an online service, you are opening the flood gates for unsolicited phone calls.
- You may have store and loyalty cards, ordered a food delivery service where you have given out your mobile for text updates. If you give out your phone number on line, chances are your number will end up in someone else’s hands.
- Computers are fast and smart, looking at billions of data instantly, in the blink of an eye they know all about you, where you live, your income, your likes and your dislikes all obtained from ‘Likes, Pins and Tweets. You will be surprised just how many companies claim to have information about you.
- Some random phone calls are automated…annoying isn’t it? However, the process of dialling your number is also very random and is done where zillions of numbers are dialled. If you get one, it’s just bad luck!
- There is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’ if you sign up to that 25% off on your order, there is a price to pay. To be eligible they will ask you detailed questions about your lifestyle, your income etc. This information is then sold on.
- 0800, 888 or 900 number can be detected by a system called Automatic Number Identification identifies which stores your number and links it with companies and associated companies you have had dealings with, its clever stuff.
Big brother is definitely watching you!
Protect your data and yourself
- It’s a start and sadly not watertight, but sign up with the Telephone Preferences Service.
- Get an answerphone. Unsolicited callers do not normally leave a message.
Let Christmas be merry …..
With the majority of Christmas shopping (64%) being done online this year, scammers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to take advantage of the influx of online transactions taking place throughout the festive period.
- Always log out
- Trust your gut instincts
- If something seems too much of a bargain … it probably isn’t, as it could well be of poor quality, counterfeit or not as described, sometimes it doesn’t even exist.
- Make sure the shopping website you’re on is authentic and the payment page secure. You can do this by checking that the address starts with ‘https’ (‘s’ is for secure) and there’s a closed padlock in the address bar.
MOST IMPORTANT -Do not open links from an email you don’t know, even if it is telling you that you have been hacked! IT’S A SCAM
Common postal scams include bogus debt letters, lottery scams and hard luck story scams. Make sure you advise your elderly relatives against responding, unless they are sure it’s genuine. That also brings issues –
Some appeals can be particularly difficult to ignore – like the picture of an animal or a child in crisis and pain. We all want to help! However, marketing is very clever and the scammers are wanting to draw you in.
Peter lives alone following the death of his wife, quickly followed by the death of his beloved dog. He wanted to donate some money to the charity that supported him and his wife through difficult times. After donating a large sum, he began to be inundated with leaflets and pleading letters which the kindly soul found hard to ignore. He then began to donate to all the charities, small amounts to begin with, but as his donations increased so did the appeals.
He showed me a charity that had sent him a letter with the picture of a dog that was identical to the one he had recently lost, appealing for money to rehome the pathetic creature or its demise would be guaranteed. This was too much for Peter and he wrote out a substantial cheque. He never found out what happened to the dog. Those appeals stopped but others continued. Peter was slowly and systematically being drained of all his savings just by being kind. He would not be advised, these cannot be described as scams, just preying on the vulnerable. Peter had capacity and therefore had ‘choice’ to do what he wanted to do with his money. His family despaired as they watched his savings fritter away, he became more and more upset by the demands for money, but as he had started he felt he couldn’t stop.
You can take your relative off as many lists as possible by registering the MPS (Mail preference service) Encourage them to put all the post in a separate box, so that they may like to chat to you about before responding. Make out that you are genuinely interested rather than cautious or critical. Remember your relative may be lonely and the ‘post’ is a lifeline to contact, it keeps the postman coming to the door, they feel needed.