Statistics have shown that over £190,000 is lost to scammers in the UK every single day, with a third of that money being made by email and social media fraudsters. It’s a huge problem and one which is on the rise in the UK.
There are loads of ways that scammers will try to get their hands on your hard-earned cash, and most of the time you won’t even be aware you’re being scammed.
Here are three of the most common scams, and how you can spot and avoid them.
The TV Licence scam
This is a scam which has become popular over the past couple of years and unfortunately, it’s persuaded people to pay thousands of pounds to criminals.
During a single month in 2018, over 5,000 complaints were made to the police about TV Licence scams. The BBC reported that one couple ended up paying over £10,000 to scammers.
This fraud is a simple one: you’ll receive an email saying that you need to pay your TV Licence or that you’ve been fined as a result of not having one.
The email may also ask you to ‘update your licence payment method’ and then ask you to put in your bank details. But whatever you do, don’t!
The message may look convincing, but a good way to spot a fake is by looking at the email address it’s come from – if it doesn’t end in @tvlicensing.co.uk, it’s probably a scam.
The false fraud claim
Cold calling is less of a problem than it used to be, as the government has outlawed many common practices, but that doesn’t stop scammers doing their best to get hold of your money over the phone.
The most popular way is for a fraudster to call your home and pretend to be a member of the police or your bank, telling you that there’s been fraudulent activity on your bank account.
The scammer will then ask you to provide your bank details so that they can verify your identity. The moment you hand these details over, they’ll have access to your bank account.
So if you ever receive a call from somebody claiming to be ‘from your bank’, an easy way to find out if they are a scammer is by asking ‘which bank is that?’ The scammer usually won’t be able to answer and you’ll know to put the phone down immediately.
Computer virus scam
One of the hardest scams to spot is one where your computer says it’s been infected by a virus. This can happen if you click on a link and download something which a scammer has sent to your email or via a Facebook message.
Once you download the file, you’ll probably see a huge number of pop-ups getting in the way of what you’re doing, and a message will also appear telling you to call a phone number and pay for the virus to be removed.
Unfortunately, the people on the other end of the phone are usually the ones who put the virus on your computer in the first place. Whatever you do, don’t call the number that pops up on screen and pay them money.
Instead, install some anti-virus software on your computer and this may fix the problem. Even better would be to install the software before you get attacked by a virus – that way it’ll detect the threat and stop anything from happening.