Scams are fraudulent schemes that dupe people into parting with their details and/or cash. Scammers are professional criminals, frequently targeting people through email, online banking systems and online transactions, to name a few. Vulnerable people can be especially at risk from scammers.
What Is a Scam?
Scams can come in many different disguises; we’re all aware of them.
Although some of these are obvious, many people fall victim to these scams. Therefore it is important to know the warning signs to look out for and what to do if you have or think you have been targeted. The Guardian reveals that UK bank customers lost £500 million to scams in the first half of 2018. It’s time to get scam savvy!
Scams in the Media
Martin Lewis, founder of the website ‘Money Saving Expert’ recently drew great attention to the problem when scammers used his face as the forefront of many scams. Martin issued high court proceedings against social media giant, Facebook, for defamation after a year in which over 1000 scam adverts abusing his name or image appeared on their site.
Martin and Facebook came together in a settlement to help combat scamming. They have agreed that Facebook will donate £3 million to Citizens Advice to deliver a new UK Scams Action project, which launched in May 2019. On top of this, Facebook has launched a scam ad reporting tool, unique to the UK and a dedicated team to handle these complaints.
Different Types of Scams
Some scams are obvious, but some are a lot more intelligent, which is why you must be extra careful when providing your details online. Scams often appear as;
Investment scams are a type of ‘get rich quick’ scheme where the scammer claims to be able to predict something like the outcome of sports or share trading. They will often ask you to pay a fee upfront, usually a costly one. Once you pay this fee, you will discover that their claims were false, and this was all a dupe so that you would part with your money.
Tip – Do not let anyone pressure you into making investment decisions; always seek independent financial advice.
Online selling scam
Scam companies often post fake advertisements offering non-existent products for low prices, some of the most common online selling scams include holiday offers or tickets for festivals. If the price appears too good to be true, then it most likely is!
Tip – When purchasing anything online you should always try to use secure payment options such as Paypal as you may be able to seek a chargeback from your bank if you lose money in a scam.
Scam companies will often approach you online through social media or dating websites and, over time, build a relationship with you. Once this relationship is established, they will begin asking you for money.
Tip – Avoid sending money/personal details to someone that you have never met in person.
Be wary of…
- Holiday offers or rented apartments abroad at very low prices.
- Fake festival or gig tickets.
- Confirming bank details by clicking through to a fake website.
- Claiming tax rebates.
- Accident and injury calls via telephone.
Tips for staying safe online
- Real bank emails never ask for sensitive information to be confirmed by clicking a link.
- If the price offered seems too good to be true, then it most likely is.
- Look at the website/email address – does it look correct?
- HMRC never send emails or texts about taxes or payment information.
What to Do If You Have Been Scammed?
- If money goes missing from your account, contact your bank immediately.
- If you have already responded to a scam, end all further communication.
- You should report any spam or fraudulent activity to Action Fraud so they can take appropriate action. Call 0300 123 2040 to contact the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.
- Only contact the police in the case of any immediate danger or if the crime is about to happen.
There are many people in the UK with serious debts. It can be a worrying time, and many scam companies take advantage of this. When you are looking to enter into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) as a debt solution, it is crucial to make sure that you look out for scam warning signs.
First, get debt help and guidance from a reputable IVA debt solutions company like Debt Movement. A real debt solutions company will always be willing to give help and guidance based on your unique financial circumstances as debt solutions are not one-size-fits-all situations. You can contact us today to discuss your needs and find out more about IVAs.
Warning Signs of a Scam Company
If you can’t find the business address of an IVA company or it is operating under a postal address, it is likely to be one of the scam companies that aim to extort money from vulnerable people. Additionally, if the IVA company in question make promises such as ‘guaranteed acceptance’ or asking for a lump sum of money up-front, they are likely a scam company. You should always have a way of contacting your IVA company whether it be with a phone call, through a business address of a registered office or email address. When you contact an IVA company, they should ask questions about your finances, creditors, creditor payments, income, and expenditure.
IVAs can only be administered by a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner, so any reputable website will have details of the Insolvency Practitioners(s) that work for them. These details can be checked on https://www.gov.uk/find-an-insolvency-practitioner if you are concerned.
No matter how worried you are about your debts, don’t rush into something without first considering your options. Insolvency Practitioners are required to provide you details of alternative debt solutions. Never sign anything without reading the small print. Contracts are legally binding, so many scam companies will put things in the terms and conditions that don’t benefit you or would ring alarm bells if you took some time to read through them because they simply rely on the initial lump sum payment being made.
Where Can You Get Help with an IVA?
There are companies and debt charities that will provide good debt advice and give you guidance on how to deal with creditors. If you wish to contact them for debt help, ask for Insolvency Practitioner information, registered office address or charity number. You should never have to make any payments just to talk to someone about debt.
Debt Movement’s team of friendly guides are always here to talk to anyone with problem debt. We will talk you through your financial circumstances, creditors and affordability to help you to make your own decision as to whether an IVA is right for you. We will explain to you how an IVA can affect your credit rating for six years. If you own your home, we can discuss whether your home would be at risk or whether your IVA may require you to remortgage in the final year. We will take a good look at your income and expenditure and never ask you to pay more than you can reasonably afford.
If you decide to go ahead with an IVA through Debt Movement, you’ll have close contact with our Licensed Insolvency Practitioner who will remain with you through to completion of your IVA. We will contact each of your creditors on your behalf, and there are no upfront fees – only the affordable monthly payments will be payable until the acceptance of your IVA, from which our fees will be taken.