Citizens Advice are warning that fraudsters are ‘picking the pockets’ of up to four million people each year in the UK.
Fraud offences in England and Wales rose by 25% in 2013, compared to the previous year, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud. But Citizens Advice has calculated that up to four million people could be scammed each year as many scams go unreported.
They also found that:
• Over a third of scams (34%) were over the phone.
• Almost a quarter of scams (24%) were through visits to a web site.
• 16% were letter or fax scams.
• One in ten scams (10%) were through emails.
One example of fraud that Citizens Advice have dealt with involves a flat hunter who saw a property advertised online. He gave the landlord the necessary costs to move in, totalling £1450 via bank transfer and £200 cash. When he went to move into the property, someone else was already living there. The ‘landlord’ had fraudulently advertised the property.
What to do if you have been scammed
• Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.
• If you’ve paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.
• Get advice and report scams to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 (for advice in Welsh phone 08454 04 05 05) or online advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk
Top tips for spotting scams
1. Always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Never give out your bank details or send money unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you.
3. Have you been contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
4. Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card, ask for your PIN or come to your home.
5. Make sure the website’s secure, if you are buying online – check for the padlock or “https” next to the web address
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