This Scams Awareness Fortnight (13 to 26 June) Nottinghamshire County Council is reminding residents of the steps they can take to protect themselves against scams and fraud.
With many people facing increased financial pressures due to the rising costs of living, scammers are looking for ways to take advantage of this and defraud individuals, such as sending out phishing emails offering fake government rebates.
Scams can fall into some broad categories and here are some examples:
- Doorstep -people calling at your door to offer you goods and services you don’t want or need
- Telephone – phone calls telling you that you need to pay an urgent bill and requesting your bank details. Calls offering you a pendant /lifeline alarm service or offering you a refund on a white goods insurance policy you may have purchased. Reports have also been received regarding a WhatsApp scam message pretending to be from a family member who needs money urgently.
- Online – ‘copycat’ websites selling services that are either free or cheaper via the official Government route. People asking for money urgently on dating websites, perhaps for urgent medical care or to pay for a visa to visit you.
- Post – letters informing you that you have won a prize, but you need to send some money to claim the prize, or clairvoyants predicting harm or poor health is around the corner, and for a fee they can protect you.
Councillor John Cottee, Cabinet Member for Communities at Nottinghamshire County Council said:
“It’s important to remember that anyone can fall victim to a scam. They aren’t always easy to spot and as a result people of all ages and backgrounds get scammed.
“Scams can leave lasting financial and psychological distress on victims, and often come with a stigma which leaves victims embarrassed and unwilling to report the crime.
“Our advice is to be suspicious of unsolicited mail, emails or telephone cold calls and say no to all doorstep tradespeople.
“Legitimate companies will not call you to verify your financial details or demand a fee for a usually free service or a special offer, so never give your details out when you receive unsolicited requests.”
Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards Service has put together the following tips to help people protect themselves and family members against scams:
- Do not deal with people that turn up out of the blue at your property offering to do work. Always shop around, you can ask family and friends for recommendations or find an approved trader through the Buy With Confidence Scheme
- If you are expecting someone to call at your property, always ask for identification and if in doubt call the organisation directly to verify
- Be suspicious of requests for money up front and never feel pressured into handing any money over
- Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help and support. People who are genuine will be happy to wait for your response
- Legitimate organisations will not contact you out of the blue to ask for payment. Make sure to remember this if you are contacted
- If an email does not look right, never click on links or attachments. If you are unsure about whether an email is genuine, ask family and friends to make sure
- Protect your financial information, especially from those you don’t know. Never give your bank card or pin number to a stranger
- If in doubt, take your time and get advice. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
If you think someone might be trying to scam you, it’s important to act straight away. If you need advice and support you can call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or visit the Citizens Advice website. You should also report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud.
To stay up to date with the latest advice on preventing scams, residents can sign up for Nottinghamshire County Council’s consumer advice and scams e-bulletin. Registering for the Nottinghamshire Alert will also ensure that people are kept informed by Nottinghamshire Police, local authorities, Neighbourhood Watch and other public organisations about local scams.
Other steps that residents can take to avoid or protect themselves or others against scams include:
- Become a Friend Against Scams by completing an online training session (around 20 minutes long)
- Become a Nominated Neighbour. This is a scheme in Nottinghamshire which helps protect people from unwanted doorstep calls and rogue traders
- Register your phone number for free with the Telephone Preference Service to reduce unwanted telephone calls. It is always worth speaking to your telephone provider to see whether they offer a call blocking service
- Take Five to stop fraud is a national campaign offering straight forward, impartial advice that helps prevent email, phone based and online fraud
- If you own a business, consider becoming a Business Against Scams you will be given access to a number of resources and access to an online awareness session that provides details of the most common scams against businesses
- If you receive unwanted scam mail, consider becoming a Scam Marshal. Once registered you can send your unwanted post to the National Trading Standards Team where it can help prevent other similar letters from entering the postal system.