How to protect yourself from scammers
Scams, or fraudulent schemes designed to steal your money, are a growing problem. Research by consumer organisation, Which, showed they increased by 33% over the year to March 2021, with victims losing more than £2.3bn. Here’s how to ensure sure you don’t fall for scams.
Common types of scam
Scams can involve:
Doorstep callers with sob stories asking for money, or pretending to be from a legitimate company
‘Phishing’ emails, texts, or phone calls that try to trick you into giving away sensitive information such as bank passwords or PINs
Fake websites selling goods or tickets that never arrive
‘Smishing’, where scammers send you a message asking for a small payment before a package can be delivered, then try to steal your bank details.
How to spot a scam
Some scams can be hard to spot, but there are often warning signs that should set alarm bells ringing.
If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Tax rebates you weren’t expecting, investment opportunities with unusually high returns, or anything that seems like a huge bargain should arouse suspicions.
You’re contacted unexpectedly by someone claiming to be from your bank, the tax office, your internet service provider, energy company etc. They may say you’ve been a victim of fraud, or your account is about to be suspended.
You’re asked for your password, PIN, or other personal information. Genuine organisations never do this.
You notice that a ‘company’ website or email has:
-a PO Box number, not a street address
-a premium rate phone number (numbers starting with 084, 087 09 or 118), or just a mobile number
-no ‘contact us’ page, or just a contact form.
Scam emails, texts or websites often contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar so look carefully for these.
You’re pressured to act – perhaps threatened with prosecution if you don’t reply immediately, or told to buy now or miss out.
You’re asked to pay in an unusual way, such as with Amazon vouchers, by bank transfer, or through a transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram.
How to avoid scams
Stop and think.
Check companies are real. Look up financial services companies on the Financial Conduct Authority website, and other companies at Companies House. Check web URLs and email addresses as scam ones often differ slightly from those of the real organisations.
Pay attention to online security.
Load antivirus software onto all your devices.
Use an online password manager that generates strong passwords and remembers them for you. You then access them all using just one password.
If you create your own passwords, don’t include personal details, such as your date of birth. Put random words together; use upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols; and include more than 12 characters.
Use a different password for every account and change them regularly.
Never write down a password. If necessary, note down a coded reminder that only you will understand.
Shred all paperwork you no longer require from financial organisations, utility companies, phone and internet providers etc.
What to do if you’ve been scammed
If you think your bank details have been stolen, contact the bank immediately so it can safeguard your account. Check statements for unauthorised transactions.
If you paid by credit card, debit card, or Paypal and didn’t receive the item, you can often reclaim the money. Contact your card provider or visit the Paypal website for instructions.
If you’re tricked into transferring money from your bank account to that of a scammer, contact your bank as soon as you realise. If it’s very recent, the bank may be able to stop or reverse the payment. If that’s not possible, there are other ways to get your money back.
Report the scam to help the authorities crack down on fraudsters and protect others. Contact Action Fraud; send suspicious emails or website links to the National Cyber Security Centre; and forward texts to 7726, the number used by mobile phone providers to track scam and spam messages.
Try not to feel embarrassed or ashamed as anyone can fall victim. If you feel upset and need to talk, you could contact Victim Support, or Benenden Health members can call our Mental Health Helpline to speak with a counsellor. The service is available 24/7 and is accessible from day one of your membership.
How to spot a real call from Benenden Health
Remember that Benenden Health always sticks to these rules.
We never use automated calls to renew your membership account or payments.
We never email you with a link to renew your membership account or payments. We only send communications with options to amend your membership.
We never ask for PINs, or ask you to send Benenden money via bank transfers.
We never ask for your password to your My Benenden account.
If you’re not sure if a contact is genuinely from Benenden Health, call us on 0800 414 8100 or contact us through one of the methods listed online.