Seven signs you're being scammed

Seven signs you're being scammed

Most of us have likely experienced a scam at some point, from a badly spelled letter from 'HMRC' saying you have a refund you need to collect, to a Nigerian Prince emailing you to let you know you've inherited millions of pounds.

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They come at you in all sorts of ways, including texts, letters, or even in person - but more and more, these criminals will target you online. Scams are getting cleverer and more sophisticated and it would be a big mistake to think that only the gullible are targeted.

So here are 7 signs that you are being scammed:

1. A company is contacting you out of the blue

If a company you've never dealt with before is contacting you out of the blue - whether online, on the phone or face to face, and is asking you for money - be very wary.

To ensure they are who they say they are, go to their official website, call the number from there and ask if it is legitimate (don't use any contact details they give you).

If it's a financial services company, check the FCA register to see if they are on there. If it is, they can forward you back to the person you were talking to, and if not - they have been made aware that someone is using their brand to scam someone.

2. You've been rejected for credit, but you've got a good credit history

If you usually have good credit, but all of a sudden you're being rejected, there's a chance that someone has assumed your identity and is pretending to be you to get money, goods or services.

It's always worth checking your credit file often to see if someone is making false applications for credit in your name, so you can act quickly if something is not right.

3. You're being rushed

No legitimate company will rush you into a decision, to hand over sensitive information or make you fork out money with an unreasonable deadline.

Scammers like to involve a sense of fear or urgency as a tactic to bully you into action, so you don't have time to ask for help or think things through.

4. Your bank is asking you for your PIN number personal information

A bank will never ask you for your PIN number or any online banking passwords either.

If at any point you become suspicious of someone saying they are from your bank, hang up and call them back from a number the official bank website has written on its 'contact us' page.

5. The letter or email you have received is full of dodgy spelling and bad grammar

Most emails from major companies are proofread and checked. If an email claiming to come from someone in a position of power comes through with lots of spelling and grammatical errors, be suspicious.

Scammers don't necessarily have a good education, or maybe come from a different country, so don't have the language skills you would expect.

6. The website you're on doesn't have a secure link

It's really easy to be fooled by a fake website as scammers can fake an official looking email, using the same logo and email design as the real company.

When using web pages, you need to make sure the site has a secure link. The easiest way to do this to check if there's a padlock symbol in the browser.

Does the link start with 'https://'? The 's' stands for secure, and you should really stay away from any site that doesn't have it.

7. You have a virus

Scammers use computer viruses to gain access to your computer details, which allows them to steal your identity and money. They may also get into your WIFI network for the same reason.

Viruses are small computer programmes that try and infect other computers, tablets and smartphones. Once they're in your computer, they spread from one device to another, usually by a dodgy link or download.

They can secretly monitor your computer activity, scan for passwords, and even take control of your computer. It is always wise to have anti-virus installed on your computer (there are plenty of good free ones available), which can protect you from these criminals and weed out any viruses you may already have.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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