Some of the scams recently reported in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Common scams and doorstep crimes
We are dedicating this page to Scams Awareness Campaign for June.
People in the 41 to 60 age group seem to be most affected by scams. This may be because they are more likely to report them, or because they tend to be more settled and have more money.
They are most likely to be targets for the following scams:
- investment fraud
- banking scams
- property scams
- pension liberation scams
- free trial / subscription scams
- cyber crime
Often initiated with an unsolicited phone call, frequent scam investments include wine, shares, rare earth minerals and land investments overseas. Average losses are very high. Before considering any investment visit the Financial Conduct Authority website for advice and to check that the Company is authorised to sell investments.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Action Fraud are warning the public to be wary of investment scams carried out via bogus online trading platforms. This warning comes as crypto assets and forex investment scams reports more than tripled last year to over 1,800. Visit the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website for more information.
Emails and links designed to trick people into revealing personal/financial details. By mimicking emails, addresses, websites and payment services, scammers trick us into believing we are dealing with genuine banks, traders and authorities. Most common are fake HMRC emails offering tax refunds. Examples of these scams can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Victims of cyber-crime fraud are also more likely to be aged between 41–60. The median loss to cyber-crime fraud victims has increased between 2013/14 and 2015/2016 from £166 to £270.
Bank account fraud may result from identity theft, when cards or bank account information has been stolen, and transactions you haven’t made show up on your statement.
In a recent case, an experienced accountant tells how he was tricked by a criminal mirroring Metro Bank’s security and customer service. The caller took him through Metro’s standard security questions and he received authorisation codes texted from Metro to enable the transfer of his payees from his old account to the new. That afternoon he received another call. It was Metro Bank informing him that he had been scammed out of £9,200. Read more about this on The Guardian website.
Protect yourself against identity fraud
- Don’t throw out anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding it first.
- If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Most banks will not approach their customers in this manner.
- If you are concerned about the source of a call, hang up and call your bank, or whoever is supposedly calling you, on a legitimate number printed on your bank statements or other documents.
- Check statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the financial institution concerned.
- If you are expecting a bank or credit card statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank or credit card company.
- Don’t leave things like bills lying around for others to look at.
- If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.
- Get regular copies of your credit report from a credit reference agency.
- Notify your bank immediately if you see any unusual activity on your account.
For more advice about online safety visit the Get Safe Online website.
Property fraud is a ‘get rich quick’ investment scam, claiming it can turn you into a property millionaire. Often you attend a free presentation about making money from property investment, and the fraudsters persuade you to pay for, or sign up to, a seminar or course promising to teach you how to make money dealing in property.
You might be offered the opportunity to buy properties at a discount that aren’t yet built, and be persuaded into investing. The land could be agricultural or derelict, and unsuitable for development, and planning permission is refused. As a result, you may lose all the money you invested.
Another variation is buy-to-let fraud, where companies offer to source, renovate and manage properties, claiming good returns from rental income. In practice, the properties are near-derelict and the tenants non-existent.
For advice visit the Financial Conduct Authority website.
Pension liberation scams
Pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 give consumers added flexibility but the Citizens Advice report ‘Too good to be true’ calculates that 8.4 million people have been offered unsolicited pension advice or reviews since April 2015.
In a survey, 88% of consumers selected a pension offer containing scam warning signs, including out of the blue offers promising high returns, pressure to sign paperwork, and offers to access pensions before the age of 55.
For advice on pensions visit the GOV.UK website.
Subscription traps or free trial scams
Some unscrupulous companies use subscription traps, and in particular continuous payment authority (CPA), to help themselves to consumers’ accounts. Women aged 50–64 are most at risk of subscription traps offering health and beauty related products such as slimming pills or skin creams.
In April 2018 the government reaffirmed their crackdown on subscription traps to empower consumers to put a stop to it. In the meantime, consumers still need to take care. Be mindful that clicking links on an official website may take you to a third-party website and you will no longer be protected by the terms and conditions of the official website that you were visiting originally. Always read the small print.
To report a scam call Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or report a problem on the Citizens Advice - Report a scam form.
The Metropolitan Police also produce the Little Book of Big Scams which highlights dubious practices designed to con people out of their money. Visit the Met Police website to download the book, or for further information.
Find out more about the scams awareness campaign on the Citizens Advice website.
On Twitter you can also follow @Actionfrauduk, and #scamaware.
If you think you can help support the campaign against scams, please visit the Friends Against Scams website.