SCAMS you should be aware of

SCAMS you should be aware of Parcel Delivery Scam Dropping parcel delivery cards through letter box and asking them to call a number to arrange redelivery of parcel, but the number is premium rate. Bank Scam Phoning the elderly and acting as Bank workers and asking for their Banking details. Gas and Electricity scams to avoid: What is sit they say “If it looks too good to be true then it usually is”. But even so, we still fall victim to such ploys and scams every year. Even worse, the newest scam and tricks could cost you a lot more than just your cash. So let’s familiarise ourselves with the scams and know how to avoid them. Bogus energy-saving gadgets It emerged last week that telephone fraudsters have been targeting elderly people by offering them bogus and potentially hazardous and unsafe energy-saving gadgets. The scammers call their target (usually the elderly) and say they are calling from their utilities supplier and tell their target that the £99 plug-in gadget can reduce their utility bills by as much as 40% even 50%. But the truth is that the devices provide no savings whatsoever and the gadgets could even result in fire or electrocution. The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is currently dealing with hundreds of complaints about such fake goods. So far 4 prominent and fraudulent suppliers have been identified: 1 Stop Marketing Solutions ITC Development Corp Power Saver Athico Ltd However it is believed that there are significantly more bogus companies. Additionally, some of these bogus names adopt and use trading names that sound or are similar to genuine Utility suppliers. The Trading Standards Institute is advising anybody who has responded to a bogus energy-saving cold calls to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or or get in touch with Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506. They should also contact their bank to cancel any direct debits and, if an energy saving gadget has been received in the post, then to dispose of it carefully. Free energy scam sites The Trading Standards Institute also advised consumers to be very cautious particularly when handing out their personal or financial information, especially if they are targeted by a cold caller. As the rising gas and electricity prices have encouraged these bogus energy scammers to up their game to capitalise on the general public’s desire and need to cut their utility bills. The bogus plug-in gadget is just the latest fraud call used by these cold callers. However, the ideal platform of the modern day energy scammer is online. As the internet has thousands of websites that offer such gadgets and methods that apparently drastically cut your energy usage – but don’t. There are some clear signs that can help you spot and identify a fraudulent website: Obviously a degree of common sense is needed when looking into energy-saving websites. Take the plug-gadget in question. Why would a device that can trim your energy bill by 40%-50% be selling for just £49.99? You should also be critical of any relatively unknown websites that seem to offer “to good to be true” mass-market, high in-demand products. Ask yourself why this ‘company’ is so small if the deal they are offering you is such an excellent deal and value for money. Make sure you always do your research: Check out the company, to find out if it has a good track record and reputation. Speak to any of the Consumer groups shown above, visit relevant online forums to find out and establish experiences of other people. Also check that the company has an actual, real telephone number and contact address before paying any money. For example if the website webpages are long, winding and poorly made, and the copy is badly spelt with poor grammar and spelling mistakes you should be very suspicious. Door-to-door sales people Most Utility providers have now stopped carrying out all door-to-door sales campaigns. Their move away from this form of sale is based on mounting pressure from consumer groups such as Which and Consumer Focus. Ideally, just ignore door-to-door salespeople to avoid any form of pressure sales tactics.

False free gifts A further dodgy sales tactic used effectively by Utility companies, is the bogus free gift to encourage you to think that you are getting something for nothing. The offer to tempt you into a tariff with the offer of a free gift is often an energy monitor, cash back or a set of gift vouchers. However, usually the deal is only available or offered via their dearest tariffs.

2011 was a record year for fraud when apparently £126 a second was lost to fraud. More importantly, 50% of all victims last year were aged between 41 and 60. So why is this? Well one reason is low interest rates, as getting a healthy return on their savings these days is highly unlikely. The average interest rate today remains low after dropping like a stone from around 4% in early 2008. Therefore, current scams offered to their suckers are fine wine, land, property and of course gold. Major scams to watch out for include boiler rooms — when a slick salesman calls your home to try and sell you investments which they claim will make an excellent profit. And perhaps an answer to all your problems and wants. To protect yourself from this, never buy anything from a so-called investment salesman who calls you out of the blue. Put down the phone and don’t be drawn into the sales patter or pitch. As any professional company would never contact you using this Sales method. If anyone were to try and sell you land without planning permission, claiming it will increase in value. Then put the phone down as chances are if the deal was that good or even existed the land would already be bought. As the chances are is that the plots sold will never receive planning permission. So you stand a good chance of losing your money, rather than making money. Identity fraudsters usually try to tempt you into revealing your personal details by claiming to be from your bank or another credible financial institution. And also set up dummy websites in a bid to get you to disclose your personal details. So remember to update your computer’s anti-virus software to cut the risk of being compromised. Also ignore all emails from your bank asking you to click on a link, or anyone who claims to be calling from a bank and asks you to hand over your account details. Instead, call the bank’s telephone number and ask to speak to the person directly. Steer clear of other frauds such as prize draws or lotteries you have never entered. Equally, you may receive a letter from a fake law firm advising that you have been left millions of pounds in a distant relative’s will. If you are in doubt about any company, make sure you search through an internet search engine, which should reveal reviews of the firm. If the majority of comments or reviews about a company are negative, this should set alarm bells ringing. Don’t rely on this though. Always check the FSA Register, to ensure a firm is authorised. If the firm is unauthorised and things go wrong, you will not have any access to the Financial Ombudsman ( ) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Local police forces are often powerless or, in some cases, unwilling to act on fraud reports. This can be because these cases can be so complicated and difficult to unravel that they do not have the resources to investigate individual cases. If you need to report a fraud, your local police station is not the best place to do it. Contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime-reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040.

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