People need to be on their guard against financial and legal scams following a rise in cases reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service. Citizens Advice Warwickshire is now showing people how to spot scams as it launches Scams Awareness Month.
A total of 1,200 financial and legal scams were reported to the consumer service in the year ending April 2018 - a 6% increase on the year before.
The median loss for these scams was £330.
A range of investments scams were reported to the consumer service, including:
Cryptocurrency - Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend that household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy.
Binary options - Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid
Holiday timeshares - Scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee.
Bogus solicitors - A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you have never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You”
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams; report it to Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service online or by calling 03454 040506