Scams and fraud always do well in times of uncertainty - or at particular times of the year like Christmas. At the moment, scammers must think all their Christmases have come at once with the rich seam of opportunity COVID-19 has brought them. Here are just a few things that are useful to know and could help fend off a chancer.
Have you ever watched the news so avidly or had to take in so much information than over the course of the last six months? The endless updates and being kept constantly informed by everyone from the Prime Minister to the postman has, of course, been essential. But this has also created the perfect environment for fraudsters to slip effortlessly under the radar and sound particularly convincing against this unprecedented wave of information and communication.
You’ve no doubt read in the papers or heard on the news about the various tricks scammers have been getting up to at the moment. Some are just opportunist criminals taking their chances and trying their luck, but others are really convincing and sophisticated. And with everyone trying to get to grips with lockdowns and new normals, becoming the next Dominic Littlewood or Lyn Faulds Wood won’t be at the top of your list.
One of the latest coronavirus scams is people pretending to be from the NHS Test and Trace Service. Obviously, this service is vitally important, so there is a chance that you could get a call from them, especially if you’ve visited a restaurant or pub where you’ve signed in. The important thing to remember is that a genuine caller from the NHS Test and Trace Service, will not:
- ask for bank details or payments
- ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
- ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
- ask you to call a premium-rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087.
Find out how to spot a scam and get helpful info with Citizens Advice
There’s no single fail-safe answer on how to deflect a scam, but anything that can interrupt a fraudster’s patter or script could be enough to send them on their way. The UK’s national fraud reporting service Action Fraud and the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign has some sound advice:
Stop:Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, and report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
No genuine visitor or caller will object if you ask for ID or ask them to get back in touch when, say, you’ve got a friend or relative with you. Don’t feel under any obligation either to automatically answer your doorbell or telephone every time it rings – if someone honestly needs to get hold of you, they’ll leave a message on your answerphone or write a letter or an email. Little things can all deter a criminal who usually hasn’t got time to waste before they move on to their next mark.
How Saga is helping its customers fight fraud
If you’ve got Saga’s legal expenses cover as part of your home insurance, you’ve got some great anti-fraud services just a phone call away – it’s like having your own personal IT security team on standby. The Saga legal expenses cover includes:
- an around-the-clock Online Safety Support Service to help people affected by cybercrime activity, such as phishing emails and viruses. The team will help the moment anything is suspected and give advice on what to do next. They can even assist in getting devices back to normal again after an incident.
- a 24-hour Fraud and Scam Helpline for advice about telephone, door-to-door and email scams from Citizens Advice-trained specialists. The team can also arrange support and counselling for those who have experienced any of these situations.
Saga’s legal expenses cover is available as an optional extra with any Saga Home Insurance policy. Along with the fraud assistance, it also provides unlimited legal advice and up to £100,000 for legal costs. If you’d like the support of Saga’s legal expenses cover, call 0800 068 3410 to find out more.
With luck, you’ll never have to fend off a fraudster. And with these strategies up your sleeve, you’ll know what to do if it happens.
Saga's Legal Expenses option is underwritten by AmTrust Europe Limited.