Don’t miss a trick – watch out for legal and financial scams
Across the capital London Trading Standards are supporting the Citizens Advice campaign as they show people how to spot scams as part of June’s Scams Awareness Month. A range of information sharing and outreach events are being held by individual boroughs with the overall theme of the month being “Don’t miss a trick”.
A total of 1,200 financial and legal scams were reported to the consumer service in the year ending April 2018 – a 6% increase on the year before.
A range of investments scams were reported to the consumer service, including:
- Cryptocurrency – Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend that household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy
- Binary options – Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid
- Holiday timeshares – Scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee
- Bogus solicitors – A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine
Steve Playle, Spokesperson for London Trading Standards said:
“Scammers can make for convincing white collar professionals, especially online, and are skilled at persuading people they are legitimate.”
“The stakes are high with financial and legal scams as you can end up losing your savings or pension fund, which can put your long-term financial stability at risk.”
“When you get approached about any investment, don’t rush into anything without making sure it’s legitimate first, particularly when you’re contacted out of the blue.”
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice is sharing tips on how to spot them:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you have never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You”
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
Citizens Advice runs Scams Awareness Month in close collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership. This brings together key partners in the consumer landscape to identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle detriment.
Life established (40s – 60s) statistics show that people in the age group between 40 and 60 are the most affected by scams, due to the fact that they are most likely to report scams, and this group is more settled and has access to financial assets. Likely to be targeted by scams such as pension scams, dating scams and property scams.
Young People (18-24) there has been a sharp rise in the number of under 25s hit by scams. Young people are found to be a growing proportion of victims of online an identity fraud.
Citizens Advice research also shows that over half of young people are unlikely to report scams.
Scam victims over 70 have the highest detriment from a number of different types of scam. They tend to fall victim most to phone and mail scams and figures from National Trading Standards show that older people are deliberately targeted more so than other demographics. This group also sees the largest proportion of people who are re-occurring victims of scams
People who are socially isolated can be the hardest to reach and often aren't able to access the same support, advice and help that others can. This group makes up a smaller number of cases of reported scams they often have high levels of detriment, not just in the amount of money lost, but the overall impact on health and wellbeing.
Partners for Scams Awareness Month include local Trading Standards services and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).