BE ON YOUR GUARD; Tricksters thrive in recession.
Byline: TRICIA PHILLIPS PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR
FRAUDSTERS are enjoying a double-dupe recession as they prey on
vulnerable people struggling to find work or battling money problems.
Almost half of us, 48%, are targeted by crooks and three million
fall victim to cons that cost a total of PS3.5billion a year,
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of:
2. In keeping with:
Office of Fair Trading
Citizens Advice Bureau say more it than 22,000 people came to them
after being ripped off by rogues in the last year – but the debt charity
believes many more fail to report these crimes.
Today is the start of Scams Awareness Month where CAB and Trading
Standards want to raise awareness of the risk by warning people to be
more vigilant, with the message “spot scams to stop scams”.
Rogues are always ahead of the game, looking for new opportunities
and those who have fallen on hard times are the latest targets, with
offers of phoney jobs, training and debt
on the go.
These include persuading people to cough up cash for phantom
training courses with the false promise of a job, or working on a
commission basis, only to find the firm is fake and they don’t make
any money. And there’s dangerous debt help where people are asked
for an upfront fee for a loan to help clear debt, but they never get the
loan or help to sort out their finances.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy says: “Fraudsters
have never had it so good as they exploit difficult economic times.
“For most people, the recession has been really tough but
it’s a different story for rogues and tricksters as they cash in on
other people’s misfortune. We are seeing people who have been dealt
a double blow by losing their jobs and then losing money while trying to
find a new one.
“This month we are warning people to be
on the lookout for
rogues looking to make a quick buck at their expense and reminding them
that scams are crimes so it is vital they are reported.”
The big worry now is that crooks will try to cash in on the changes
to the benefits system, particularly the Bedroom Tax and
council tax benefit.
CAB say that in the past, people have been ripped off by fake
landlords who take deposits for properties that don’t exist or are
not available to rent. Crooks have also targeted those looking to reduce
their council tax bill by charging for rebanding that doesn’t
Scams come in all shapes and sizes including adverts, people
knocking on your door, emails, letters, phone calls, texts and on the
internet. The basic rule is that you need to protect your personal
details and be wary of contact by any means from someone you don’t
know – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
SPOT THE SCAM SIGNS
A call, letter, email or text comes out of the blue.
You have never heard of the lottery or competition that they are
talking about. You didn’t buy a ticket or enter the competition –
so you can’t win.
You are being asked to send money or fees upfront for anything.
You are being pushed to respond quickly, so you don’t get time
to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide.
It appears that you are being offered something for nothing.
You are being told to keep it a secret.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN SCAMMED
Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and help prevent others
If you have paid for goods or services by credit card, you may have
some protection and could get your money back. If you used a
card that allows the cost of goods or services that are purchased to be deducted directly from the purchaser’s checking account. They can also be used at automated teller machines for withdrawing cash from the user’s checking account.
you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback. If you have handed
over cash you are highly unlikely to get it back.
Get advice and report the scam to Trading Standards through
Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506. For advice in Welsh
08454 040505 or www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Jobs con led us to
STUDENT Raheel Malik and his friend Zeeshan Khar have ended up with
thousands of pounds worth of debt after being offered bogus jobs.
They were conned into taking out mobile phone contracts on the
promise of desperately needed work.
Raheel, 20, who is studying motor sport mechanics, said: “We
were approached by a man in Luton town centre who was offering part-time
call centre work in
, town (1991 pop. 36,886) and borough, S central England. Milton Keynes was designated one of the new towns in 1967 to alleviate overpopulation in London. It is the seat of the Open Univ.
“There was a young guy with the man who said he worked in the
call centre and he was believable as he answered all our questions.
“As part of the job, we were told, we would need to take out
some mobile phone contracts but they would be transferred to a business
account and we wouldn’t have to pay for any calls.
“We handed over the contracts to the gentleman, who said he
would contact us to arrange a starting date for the jobs.
“But after three weeks we still hadn’t heard
Then Raheel and Zeeshan, 19, began to find huge mobile phone bills
landing on the doormats of their Luton homes. Raheel was
tr.v. hor·ri·fied, hor·ri·fy·ing, hor·ri·fies
1. To cause to feel horror. See Synonyms at dismay.
2. To cause unpleasant surprise to; shock.
he realised they added up to PS9,000, with calls made from Pakistan.
“That’s when I realised the job offer was scam,” he
said. “I’m now stuck trying to sort this mess out with
bailiffs chasing me for the money.
“You don’t expect people to be so
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a callus or callosity.
of the nature of a callus; hard.
and pick on
those looking for work.
“I’d advise anyone to be wary of anything where you have
to make an upfront payment or if there are strings attached to a job.
That should set alarm bells ringing to walk away.”
Protect yourself from rogues
NEVER give out your contact details including your name, phone
number or address to strangers or to people who should have this
Never give financial information such as bank accounts or credit
card details, PIN or passwords to strangers or those who should have
this information already. Banks will never ask for PIN or full
Shred all your paperwork with personal or financial details on it –
don’t just throw it in the bin.
No matter how persuasive the sales
v. pat·tered, pat·ter·ing, pat·ters
1. To make a quick succession of light soft tapping sounds:
is, just say: “No,
thank you.” Don’t be pressurised into making any decisions
Walk away from job adverts, loans or other financial products that
ask for money in advance,
If in doubt about any so-called opportunity, don’t reply. Bin,
delete it or hang up the call.
year”Fraudsters have never had it so good as they exploit
difficult times fail a
TRICKED n Raheel, left, and Zeeshan