Scams are where someone fraudulently attempts to steal money, or information, from their victim. Fraudsters will frequently change the nature of their scams, therefore falling victim to one is increasingly common - reports suggest three quarters of the population have been targeted.
People are more susceptible to scams when they’re at their most vulnerable and scammers use this to their advantage. Scams take many forms, such as fake investments, sham health products to romance fraud and bogus dog breeders.
The most common types of scams are detailed below:
Advance fee fraud
The fraudster attempts to get the victim to make upfront payments for goods, services, or financial gains, that don’t exist. Examples of these are lottery, clairvoyant or psychic, inheritance scams etc.
Authorised push payment fraud
The fraudster pretends to be someone official such as from a bank, the police or HMRC, and convinces the victim that suspicious activity on their bank account has been detected. They will then get the victim to transfer money into a 'safe' bank account.
Computer software service fraud
The victim will receive a cold call from the scammer who will claim there is a problem with their computer. The scammers claim to be from we known companies such as Sky, Virgin and BT to gain the victims trust and attempt to gain remote access to the their computer, this gives them access to everything on the computer. Scammers have been known to take control of victims bank accounts, steal personal information and even charge for the privilege.
Fraudsters will go from door to door unexpectedly offering goods and services. These are often overpriced, and if the service goes ahead, the work is undertaken to a poor standard. The scammers will often use high pressure sales tactics to intimidate the victim into going ahead with purchase.
Romance and dating fraud
Fraudsters use fake profiles on dating websites and convince their victims that they are in a relationship. Once they have established the victims trust the scammer will begin asking for money for sick relatives or business opportunities that can’t go ahead due to cashflow problems. The scammers are always keen to meet but have a range of excuses why that they can’t, such as working away in a foreign country.
Salford City Council are committed to raising awareness about scams at every opportunity and as such became a Friends Against Scams Organisation in June 2018.
Scams affect the lives of millions of people across the UK. People who are scammed often experience loneliness, shame and social isolation. Friends Against Scams aims to inspire action, highlight the scale of the problem, change the perceptions of why people fall victim to scams and make scams a local, regional and national topic.
The scheme is run by National Trading Standards, and provides members with information and training on scams and help in assisting victims.
Scams come in many forms, including junk mail, nuisance calls, doorstep callers and many online methods, this means it is important that as many people as possible need to be aware of the warning signs.
Research shows that 53% of people over 65 have been targeted by scammers, so it is important for everyone to have an understanding of scams to prevent them becoming victims, and also to help others who may have fallen victim.
If you think you have been a victim of a scam you can report it to Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.
You too can become a Friend Against Scams and take a stand against scams by taking free online training.
To find out more go to the Friends Against Scams website.