Scammers present themselves as an authority you can trust
If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Every year, millions of people are targeted by scammers. There are many different types of scam, however they all share one thing in common; they are all dishonest ways for people to make money, using deception to trick people into handing over hard-earned cash.
Scammers can use a multitude of platforms to contact their victims, so it is important to be aware. Some of the ways you could be contacted include (but are not limited to) by post, over the phone, online or even in person.
Scammers will do their research and find information about you before they make contact. They use a variety of techniques, including flattery and emotional manipulation, to draw you in. Older people may be more vulnerable because scammers often target people who may be home during the day, have money or valuables and those who are alone and need someone to talk to.
Tactics commonly used to defraud
Advancing technology has made it easier than ever before for scammers to operate and has allowed for scams to become increasingly sophisticated, which can make them harder to spot. They often take form in offers that come out of the blue, prizes that ask you to send money upfront to enable you to claim winnings, they may discourage you from disclosing any details with family or friends or some may even claim to be from your bank, requesting that you share your bank details or PIN so it is crucial to stay alert in order to protect your assets.
Phishing scams – Scammers present themselves as an authority you can trust and will try to trick you into disclosing personal data by means of email, phone calls, text or social media messaging.
When in doubt, contact the company or agency yourself, don’t give an identity thief a way in by responding to a suspicious message, clicking a link or opening a file.
Data breaches – Criminals can hack into commercial databases to obtain individuals personal data in large batches, which they either use for their own purposes or sell to other Fraudsters.
Physical theft – Stolen wallets and purses—and the credit cards and ID information they contain—can open a world of opportunity for credit fraudsters. It’s a good idea to know who to contact if they’re lost or stolen.
Protecting yourself against scams
Safeguarding personal data online requires vigilance, however there are steps you can take that will make it harder for scammers to retrieve your information. Avoid storing credit card information whilst shopping online and develop good security habits by creating strong, unique passwords for each account. Change them regularly and avoiding public Wi-Fi networks where possible.
Reporting suspected scammers to authorities
It is best to act quickly if you suspect scammers are abusing your personal data, by immediately contacting your bank regarding suspicious transactions so they can try to recover any funds lost and by reporting the scam to the police. There is a wealth of knowledge and support available online such as Action Fraud’s online fraud reporting tool whilst Victim support offers emotional and practical support to victims of scams.