If truth be told, it would be possible to devote an entire book on this subject. The increase in our day to day reliance on computers and technology have opened up a brand new window of opportunity for scammers to try to get us to part with our money in return for nothing but an empty promise, if we even get offered that!
Computers are not the sole culprits however. There's a scam out there waiting for everyone and it's important you don't let down your guard. If you do, then you, too can become a victim.
Scammers are not concerned with who they try to con out of cash and elderly people are not immune to this. In fact, some scammers see older people as easier targets so it's important to be vigilant.
Scams have gone on for as long as time itself. We've all heard of the rogue cowboy tradesmen who offer to fix your roof for £300 then, once it's complete (or they say it's complete), they come asking for £600. It's a lot easier these days to ensure that the tradesmen we get in to carry out work on our homes are reputable as the majority of good ones are regulated so you can always check for a reputable tradesman before you agree to work being carried out on your property. Likewise, with door to door salesmen, most of us know not to let them into our homes or let them pressurise us into signing up for something we don't fully understand the implications of. And, if in doubt, a door can always be closed so, if in doubt, shut 'em out! Click here to go to the Buy With Confidence website to find traders who have been vetted by Trading Standards.
However, today, scammers are using ever more devious ways in which to con you out of your hard earned cash.
Well Known Scams
Lottery scams, premium rate phone scams, pyramid selling, miracle health cures, work from home scams, foreign money offers scams, bogus holiday clubs, investment scams, phishing in which a bogus e-mail tries to get you to give details of your bank account by purporting to be an e-mail from your bank - Note: No bank would ever ask you for your security details in an e-mail.
In terms of listing scams, we could go on and on. The crucial point here though is not to try and list every scam known to man. Even if we did that, you can bet your life there'd be another hundred to add tomorrow, the key is to recognise a scam from the outset so that you can take action to avoid becoming a victim.
How to Recognise a Scam
Let's take a look at how scammers make their approach. That way, you're most of the way to recognising a potential scam before it can even take place.
Scammers will often try to succeed by:
- Catching you unawares, e.g. contacting you without you asking them to, by phone, e-mail, post or sometimes in person
- Sounding pleasant and plausible and wanting to sound as though they could be your friend
- Having highly professional posters, letters and leaflets
- Being very persuasive and persistent
- Trying to rush you into making a decision
- Asking you to send money before you've received anything from them first
Scammers are masters at creating the professional 'pitch'. They'll often offer you something for nothing (or so it seems) such as:
- You've won a major prize in a lottery or draw, even if you haven't entered one
- An exclusive entry to a scheme that's 'guaranteed' to make you money
- A way to earn easy money by you agreeing to help them get untold 'millions' out of their country
- The chance to join an investment scheme that will make you vast amounts of cash
Then, there's the sting.
Hopefully, we've flagged up enough warning bells for you to be able to spot a scammer straight away but if you haven't got it yet, the next stage will be the 'sting'.
What They'll Ask For
- Send money up front (they may end up couching this in all kinds of fancy terminologies, such as saying it's simply an administration fee or tax, but however it's dressed up, the aim is to get you to give up some of your money (and remember, you've not received anything yet, except hollow promises which will inevitably turn out to be false) - click here for a useful guide to variants of this kind of scam
- Give them your bank, credit card or other personal details - NEVER fall for this one
- Ring an expensive premium rate phone number (this could cost you a fortune)
- Buy something first in order to collect your prize (there'll be no prize or, at best, it'll be worthless)
We all like to believe that all people are, in essence, good, honest and truthful but sadly, this is not the case. Even though these people may appear, on the face of it, to be ever so polite, courteous and friendly beware…..as they'll lie to you, give you very good answers to any of your objections, only give you a PO box number as their address, ask you to give them money straight away or ask you not to tell anyone about the 'deal'.
If they try to do any of these things, it's highly likely to be a scam.
By following all the advice outlined above and keeping an eye out for all the tricks and ruses, it will help you in avoiding all manner of scams. And, if you're in doubt, or you feel you may have already been the victim of a scam, you should contact Consumer Direct (http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/) and/or Action Fraud (http://www.actionfraud.org.uk).