Almost three quarters of us has been targeted by scammers in the past two years and one in 10 know someone who’s lost money to fraud, according to Citizens Advice. Today marks the start of Scam Awareness Month 2018, a yearly campaign that aims to ensure more consumers ‘don’t miss a trick’ when it comes to scams. Scams are crimes that can happen to anyone and we don’t need to be embarrassed if we fall victim to them. We’ve identified 10 of the latest and most common scams you need to be aware of.
1. Ticketing scams
Ticket scams happen when someone’s sold a ticket that’s fake or doesn’t exist and isn’t refunded. Working out whether an online ticket seller is legitimate can be tricky. Fraudsters create their own bogus ticket retail websites that look genuine. Some even use a name or website address very similar to a legitimate ticket sales website. We can help you navigate the murky world of secondary ticketing sites, and you can read some useful tips to protect yourself from scam online ticket sites.
2. Pension scams
Cruel scammers have been making the most of pension freedoms and tricking people into handing over their hard-earned retirement savings to false or dodgy investments. Since pension freedoms was introduced in April 2015, Citizens Advice calculates that 8.4 million people have been offered unsolicited pension advice or reviews. Always remember that if someone contacts you out of the blue offering something which sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. We have more free information about how to spot a pension scam, how to protect an elderly relative from a scam and how to report scams on our Consumer Rights Site.
3. Investment scams
Investment scams are dangerous because the losses can often be very high. They’re usually initiated with an unsolicited phone call, letter, email or social media message and often offer investments in wine, shares, rare earth minerals or land investments overseas. Once again, remember if someone contacts you out of the blue and it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Read more: how to spot an investment scam
4. Phone, text and email scams
All of these scams are fraudsters using emails (phishing), texting (smishing) or phone calls (vishing) to pretend to be from an official source, like the police, a bank or another legitimate organisation such as an internet company. The scammers can use technology so the messages looks legitimate but ultimately trick people into handing over their bank details, calling premium numbers or downloading malicious software. There’s more information about the top tactics to watch for and what to do if you’re scammed on our site.
5. Money mules
Students are particularly vulnerable against this scam where someone allows their bank account to be used to launder criminal funds. In return, the victim will get paid a fee. This scam has particularly harsh consequences as the victim is breaking the law so can be prosecuted if caught. Young people will be the focus of the second week of Scam Awareness Month, when we’ll go into more detail about which scams people aged 18-24 need to watch out for.
6. Contactless card ‘skimming’
In 2015, Which? was able to easily and cheaply acquire contactless-card technology and use this to remotely ‘steal’ key card details from a contactless card. We were then able to order items online, one of which was a £3,000 TV. Someone would probably have to be very close to you to lift your card details without you knowing. In our tests, the card had to be touched against the mobile card reading device, although other readers might be more powerful. Industry figures suggest contactless card fraud is low, amounting to 2.7p in every £100 spent using the technology, which represents just 1.1% of overall card fraud. Read more: how to avoid contactless card fraud
7. Fake goods on auction sites
Fraudsters post pictures of an item – often at a bargain price – in online marketplaces, then get the victim to transfer money via their bank for something which will never arrive. Whatever you do – never pay via bank transfer. Always use a third-party payment provider, such as Paypal or a credit card, for additional protection. If the item costs more than £100 but less than £30,000 use a credit card so you can get the money back through a Section 75 claim if something goes wrong . Read more: a cautionary tale about online marketplaces.
8. Copycat websites
In March, a couple was jailed for 35 years after making £37m selling fake passports and driving licenses through copycat government websites. Copycat websites often charge a fee to process or renew official documents, which you can do free yourself.
9. Employment scams
Young people aged between 18-24 are most likely to be targeted by this scam, according to Safer Jobs. People pay for expensive training courses which don’t exist – sometimes jobs which don’t exist – or pay for CV services or security checks with illegitimate companies. If you suspect something isn’t legitimate, make sure you report it. We can help you do that.
10. Tech support scams
Older people are often targeted by people who tell them there’s a problem with their computer which can be fixed for a fee. Or they’re tricked into downloading malware by clicking on ads or suspect emails which then infect their computer with a virus. Sometimes, the scammer can even trick the person into handing over money either over the phone or through a pop-up or made via money transfers. In severe cases callers steal financial and personal details. Other computer scams involve offering bogus virus protection or warranties. The best defence of all is to keep your security settings locked up by making sure your software is always up to date.