Common scams you need to watch out for
There’s a huge array of methods con artists use to try and trick people out of their hard-earned money. We take a look at some of the more commons ones so you don’t get sucked in.
An email from your bank pops up in your inbox. It looks just the same as all the others you receive from. There’s a problem it says. It asks you to click a link and on the page it loads, which also looks like your bank’s website, you’re asked for your sort code, account number, and security code. You enter the details and you’re told the problem is solved.
The only thing is that the next time you check your account all of your cash is gone, either spent or simply transferred out. The email you received was a scam, where con artists replicate a bank’s email and site styles to trick people into handing over information.
There’s a simple way to protect yourself here. Your bank is never going to ask you to verify sensitive information straight from a link in an email. If you don’t have to go through your usual online banking log in process, it isn’t genuine.
If you’re ever concerned about an email, just call your bank instead. They’ll be able to let you know if the email is real or not.
‘Nigerian 419’ Scams
When these scams first started to appear they usually originated in Nigeria, hence the name. The 419 references the section of the country’s criminal code that prohibits the scam. So what is it?
Essentially you’ll receive some kind of plea for help that involves large sums of money that are set to be taxed heavily in the country the sender resides in. They ask if you’d be willing to have the money transferred to you in exchange for a generous percentage. In other words, the chance at millions of pounds for doing nothing.
Of course there is no money. What the scammer wants is your bank details, which they claim will be used to send you the imaginary money. You can probably guess the next step. The scammer clears out the target’s bank account and disappears into the ether.
With these kinds of cons always ask yourself: is this too good to be true? A Nigerian prince probably has better ways to avoid tax than enlisting the help of Steve in Maidenhead. If you receive any kind of request remotely similar to the above, delete the email and forget about it.
With the NHS being severely hit by this scam recently, it’s important to keep a watchful eye out. Ransomware is when a piece of software gets onto your PC and essentially locks everything down. The software then demands a payment to release your computer and your files. Unfortunately this isn’t an easy thing to get rid off once you’ve got it.
Prevention is the key here. Make sure your PC is always up-to-date as older version often have security issues that hackers take advantage of. Next get some decent security software to protect yourself too. Finally, ensure System Restore is turned on (here’s a step-by-step guide). This means if your computer is taken over you can restore the restore your PC to a time before the ransomware took over and stop yourself losing all your files.
While the name for this con only came about after the 2010 film Catfish, the scam has existed for as long as the internet has connected strangers together. The perpetrator pretends to be someone they’re not, often faking a romantic interest in the victim and stringing them along.
While not all cases involve requests of money, a significant amount do. Usually a fake story is used to illicit sympathy and then cash. Throughout all of this the con artist will use any excuse not to meet the victim in real life or offer up proof of their identity. Unfortunately there are many victims who accept these excuses.
Avoiding these scams is straightforward. If you’re ever getting close to someone online – particularly if they come out with financial sob stories – ensure they prove who they really are. On a separate safety note, if you ever meet someone from the internet always tell people where and when you are going and never go alone.
For as long as there’s been doorsteps there’s been doorstep scammers. There’s a huge range of types, but essentially they boil down to someone knocking at your door and pretending to be someone they’re not.
They may pretend they’re collecting for a charity, or they could be trying to sell you something you don’t need or that won’t ever materialise. Another common one is people pretending to be come kind of official, such as from the council or your electricity company.
Never let anyone in our house if you’re not 100% sure. Anyone official should have ID on them to prove who they are. Give the company or organisation a call to check, but be sure to get the number yourself if you can to be sure it’s correct. Never hand over things like your PIN number to people, or hand over cash either.
If in doubt, ask whoever it is to leave and call someone you trust.
Finally, if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam money.co.uk has a great piece on what to do next here.