How to recognise a scam

In Education, General, Information on February 12, 2007 at 4:38 pm

It seems to me that in recent months, the number of scams around has increased dramatically. Emails promising lottery wins, letters encouraging you to participate in get rich quick schemes, and even unwanted calls. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise what is genuine from what is not…

Scams are schemes which try to con you out of cash without ever giving you anything in return. Generally speaking, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is!

Communications stating that you have won a lottery/prize draw which you haven’t entered are almost certainly scams., as are pleas for help in getting millions out of a country, and many “invesment” schemes.

Scam artists can seem very genuine, successful and generous people. They may:

  • Catch you unawares, contacting you without you having asked them to
  • Be pleasant and well spoken, and seem to want to be your friend
  • Rush you into making decisions
  • Be persistant and persuasive

And will almost always ask you to send money before receiving their offer or win! You may be asked to send an administration fee or tax, buy something to receive your prize, ring a premium rate number, or give personal/bank details. The list is endless!

Con artists will answer all objectionsl and will be able to give good reasons why you should do what they say.

You should never give money or personal details to anyone until you have properly researched their company or background. You can get free professional advice about such schemes from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Consumer Direct.

If you think you are the victim of a scam, report it to the Police or contact Consumer Direct. Unfortunately, it is difficult to recover funds lost through such scams, as the con artists involved are usually adept at covering their tracks. But the more people who know about a scam means it is less likely that others will fall prey.

Recently, a close friend was unwittingly scammed by simply answering a call! When she answered the phone, she heard a pre-recorded message telling her she had won some money in a prize draw, and to hold for more information. Believing this to be genuine (since she wasn’t asked to call another number), she stayed on the line for a few minutes while listening to the details. Eventually, she was given a P.O box address to send a claim for her prize, and so hung up realising the whiff of a scam. But when she received her phone bill, she was shocked to find that she’d been charged a huge amount for simply receiving the call, without being told at all that the chrges would be reversed!

So if you ever receive such a call, be sure to hang up immedietly!

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