As a child, when my parents and I used to visit my grandparents, sometimes my grandma would leave the key in the door so that we could let ourselves in. Although she meant well, even in those days this was not the most sensible thing to do.
Unfortunately, 3 decades later many of us leave ourselves equally vulnerable to crime. The Guardian reports an 8% increase in fraud that bucks the trend of a 16% fall in general crime.
Hopefully, these days we are aware enough not to fall for the scam email from the nice Nigerian gentleman who wishes to give us a small fortune for helping him transfer some funds, and all he needs is a small deposit of a few thousand dollars to release those funds.
Most frauds and scams start with an unsolicited approach. This could take the form of:
- A phone call, e.g.
- An email, e.g.
- Asking for you to confirm your bank login details.
- Claiming to be from your doctor, advising you have a low white blood cell count.
- A letter, e.g.
- Telling you have won a prize in a lottery or competition you did not enter. Read more…
- Via social media promising something fun or interesting, e.g.
- The Emma Watson scam.
- An SMS, e.g.
- A knock at the door, e.g.
- With a package you did not expect, as part of the parcel delivery scam.
- An approach in a public place, e.g.
Here are a few suggestions to help you avoid becoming a victim of such scams:
- Do not assume the person who approached you is genuine. Verify their identity.
- If they approach you in person at the door or in public, ask to see ID. If you still have any doubt, call their employer.
- At the door you could insist on their company making an appointment for them to call back on at another time.
- If did not enter a competition, you are unlikely to have won a prize.
- Your bank will never send you an email asking you to confirm your login details. Here are some other things they will not do.
- If you receive an unexpected parcel, contact the company who sent it to check what is happening. Their details will be on the outside of the box (or failing that on a slip inside). Under no circumstances hand it over to anyone who calls, claiming that the box was delivered in error.
- If someone has cold called you with an offer or a claim that they can help (e.g. deal with a computer virus), it is almost certainly going to be either a scam or a sales pitch. Hang up.
- If someone calls claiming to be from your bank’s fraud department, take their full name and department. Any genuine official will understand why you wish to check their identity and will be happy to provide this information. Call your bank using the number they provide on their website or on the documentation they sent you. Ask to be put through to the individual who called you.
- If you get a call claiming to be from the police, take their name and the station they are calling from. Ring that station directly – or call 101 if you are unsure of your local police station number – ask to speak to the officer who called you.
- When returning a call either wait for 10 minutes before returning the call or ring from another phone. If you call within a couple of minutes from the same phone, the scammer could still be on the line and may convince you that you had managed to dial out. You could become a victim of their scam.
- Do not assume that a uniform means that someone is an official. Often a smart suit with a fake or stolen name badge can be mistaken for a uniform. Lost or stolen items of uniform can be used by criminals to fool members of the public into complying with their instructions.
- Gather evidence: if you are concerned that what you see or hear may be part of a scam, keep evidence such as recording a call or conversation, taking a photograph or video.
Let’s stay safe and prevent crime by being aware of the risks…