The fastest growing category of crime in the UK is currently fraud, most of which is committed online or by telephone, but which still includes old style scams to relieve you of your money.
Some easy tips to remember to stay safe
- Always be suspicious of telephone calls or e-mails from unknown persons or organisations requesting personal details. Criminals regularly pretend to be from banks or other legitimate financial organisations or even the HMRC and Police. All of the genuine organisations have security systems in place and will never ask for details or passwords.
- Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials. Call the organisation back on a verified number and ask for the person who called you to be doubly safe.
- Many frauds start with an unsolicited e-mail asking for details – known as “phishing”. Once again do not supply any details and just as importantly do not click on any links in the e-mail. It is often easy to identify phishing e-mails by looking at the address it has been sent from – it will unlikely to be from a genuine company with a .com or .co.uk address at the end. Delete any such e-mails immediately.
- Regularly check your bank and credit card balances and transactions for unknown purchases or cash transfers, and check them with your bank if you have any doubts. Anything unexpected may mean your identity has been stolen.
- Register with BT call protect (free) this diverts unwanted sales and marketing calls and will include some scams in these fields. Other telephone and mobile providers have similar systems.
- Make sure your home computers/lap tops/iPads have up to date firewall, anti-virus and malware systems in place to prevent your device being taken over from elsewhere.
If in doubt call the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Centre on 0300 123 2040 for advice.