A Return of the Retro Scammers

In this digital age, many of us worry about online scams and fraud. ‘Phishing’ and scam emails are a familiar sight to anyone with an email account, and research for Fraud Prevention Month in 2012 put the UK as the worst hit country in Europe for identity theft.

However, while we’re all busy worrying about memorising dozens of different ‘strong’ passwords, and checking that websites are secure, there’s been an increase in some of the more traditional scams of less technologically advanced times.

The BBC has reported cases of door-to-door watch sellers, claiming to be selling designer timepieces at a discount – when, in actual fact, the items are counterfeit and worth much less. In a new twist for the times, rogue traders are now using websites as ‘proof’ of the supposed value of their products.

These revived traditional tricks are timed to target those out of work and looking for bargains when finances are tight. Many are having to cut back on life’s luxuries, so designer items at drastically reduced prices may appeal. Customers may also be tempted to buy luxury items as gifts, thinking that they’re able to treat a loved one without breaking the bank.

As we’re now less used to doorstep scams, the worry is that even the most usually suspicious person could be caught off guard – particularly when faced with a charming sales person in the flesh. However, the simple fact is that fraud comes in many guises, and it’s sensible to be vigilant to all types. Here’s how:

Check your Credit Report

It’s easy to check your credit report (follow this link). Do so regularly to make sure that there are no transactions that you don’t recognise.

Shred Paperwork

Keep your personal information to yourself by investing in a paper shredder. Any documents that need to be kept should be stored in a locked filing cabinet. Never, ever put bank statements in the bin!

Surf Securely

Be aware of online security. Check for https in the browser, which represents a secure site – particularly important if entering personal details or shopping online.

Protect Pins

Protect your pin numbers and passwords. Memorise random ‘strong’ passwords, which are a combination of numerals and letters, and never write them down. Protect your pin number at the cash machine or till.

And Finally…

Say no to doorstep sellers. A good rule of thumb is not to buy anything on the doorstep, as you may feel more pressured than you would when shopping online or in a store, even if the goods on offer are genuine. If you do wish to make a doorstep purchase, don’t invite the salesperson into your home and remember that, for any purchase of £35 or more, you must be given full written instructions to your cancellation rights.

Above all, if a deal looks too good to be true, whether online or on the doorstep – it probably is!

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