Citizens Advice: Tips to help protect you from being scammed

Try not to feel embarrassed or ashamed about being scammed – scammers are clever and anyone can be caught out.

You may think that you could never be conned but Citizens Advice has revealed that 36 per cent of British adults have been the target of a scam since the Covid-19 lockdowns began in 2020 - that’s over one in three people.

The pandemic has sadly been an opportunity for criminals to take advantage of Covid-19 related fears, including making calls and texts to people claiming to be the Government, their GP and the NHS.

Scammers have also taken the opportunity to exploit lockdown loneliness through what is known as romance fraud. Romance scammers create fake profiles and cultivate trusting relationships with their victims, eventually making up a sob story and manipulating people into handing over money. The UK has seen a rise in romance fraud driven by the rise in online dating during lockdown.

Other popular scams include pension scams, investment scams, parcel delivery scams and banking scams.

Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre warns people to be alert and be aware of the warning signs which may indicate that you are being scammed. Here are our top 10 tips on how to avoid becoming a victim:

• Always Google the phone number or seller information before replying to an offer or buying something online - if you can’t find this information, that’s a warning sign.

• If you are dating online, be suspicious of anyone who asks you for financial assistance or your personal details – think to yourself: “Would I ever ask for that information from someone?”

• Is your online love interest madly in love with you but can’t speak to you over the phone? Romance scammers rarely make contact other than messages and emails.

• Is the scammer saying that you need to send them money so that they can send you even more money? This is a classic scamming technique.

• Look out for spelling mistakes and poor grammar - obvious errors that you wouldn’t expect from reputable organisations are signs that it could be a scam.

• Is the only contact number a premium rate one? Scammers like to squeeze every penny they can out of victims.

• Are you being rushed into making a decision? Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency so that you don’t think clearly.

• Is the ‘deal’ too good to be true? Yet the person is trying very hard to give you this ‘amazing deal’. Always trust your intuition. If it feels too good to be true, it likely is!

• Have you been contacted out of the blue? It is unusual for legitimate organisations to contact you and ask for sensitive information if you’re not expecting them to.

• Has there been a sudden family death or unusual tragedy? Scammers often make up these stories about why they need money to make you feel sorry for them.

If you think you may have been scammed, contact your bank immediately and report the scam as soon as possible to stop criminals taking more of your money. You can contact Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre on 0808 2787896 or visit our website at http://www.kcalc.org.uk.