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Help Protect a Loved One from Scams

Anyone who’s followed Judge Judy’s courtroom dramas will be familiar with one of her favourite mantras: “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s usually not true.” We can apply the lesson behind this saying to aspects of our lives that include our safety and security.

The best way to stay safe is to trust our own instincts. Sadly, there are people out there who make a living from taking advantage of vulnerable people through scams. There’s no need to let them win. Read on for the tips you need to keep yourself or a loved one safe.

How Scams Work

Criminals use scams to trick people into handing over their money. They often do this by manipulating people into giving them personal details such as bank accounts and passwords. It’s known as ID fraud.

Once a scammer has the information they need, they’ll abuse it. That means doing things like transferring money out of bank accounts and opening new accounts in your or a loved one’s name. They might even make false insurance claims.

One of the key difficulties is that scammers have become more convincing. Sometimes they work as part of an organised gang and will target vulnerable people in any way they can. That could be by post, phone, online or even by paying them a visit at home.

How You Can Help to Spot Scams

When it comes to scams, forewarned is definitely forearmed. There is plenty you can do to help a vulnerable loved one from becoming the victim of a scam. If possible, the best way to begin is by talking to them.

Having a conversation about the risks of scamming needs some careful thought. You should get the balance right so that you give any advice in a clear and business-like way that does not create a climate of fear.

Here are some of the key potential pitfalls you and your loved one should try and avoid:

Something Sounds Too Good to Be True

When a thing sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers may make contact in any way they can on the pretence of letting you know you’ve won a big prize. They’ll then say they need your bank details to pay you the money.

These kinds of scams might also involve the promise of making a lot of money through a small investment with no risk. It’s only human to sometimes find these offers a little tempting. The best advice is to close the conversation immediately.

Engage with Someone Who Makes Contact Out of the Blue

At one time or another, most of us are going to need to hire a plumber, open a bank account or seek pension advice. The point is that it is us who should make the first contact and not the other way round.

It’s wise to be suspicious of a company that contacts you out of the blue. Even if the contact is genuine, the chances are that it will be of no use to you and that it is, at best, a sales pitch.

Pass on Personal Details

The golden rule is to never give away personal details to anyone, especially not passwords. If you do, you run the risk of identity theft. It is one of the most serious forms of scamming, can go unnoticed for long periods of time and can take years to resolve.

Give in to Pressure to Take Action

Fraudsters will often attempt to get you to make a decision fast. They know that the less time you have to consider something, the less likely it will be that you will think something is wrong. Always take time to think things through.

Agree Not to Tell Anyone Else

If someone asks a loved one to keep something quiet, it spells danger. Fraudsters do not want vulnerable people to talk to family or friends precisely because they may get caught out.

Forget to Take a Second Look

At first glance, a fraudulent email or letter may seem genuine. Always examine them closely for misspellings or grammatical errors. Scammers are often careless. Legitimate organisations will almost never make a blatant error.

COVID-19 Scams

There’s been a marked increase in scams related to the coronavirus pandemic. These include:

  • Attempts to sell fake COVID-19 tests at the front door
  • Hoax charities asking for donations to a coronavirus cause
  • Fake online shopping sites offering masks and hand sanitisers
  • Phishing emails about COVID that try to get you to open an attachment
  • Fraudulent texts with links that claim to offer free COVID-19 payments

It’s a good idea to be aware of these types of scams so that you know how to deal with them should they crop up.

The Most Common Types of Scams

It’s worth considering some of the ways fraudsters will try to extort money or personal details. It’s not always necessary to pass on every single detail to a loved one, but being aware of common types of scams is good for the safety and security of everyone.

  • Requests from a fake site to pay a deposit by bank transfer for a holiday rental
  • Emails asking you to install software to cure a computer virus
  • Unofficial websites that offer free government services for an inflated fee
  • The selling of fake tickets to an event through a secondary agent
  • The guarantee of a loan in return for paying an upfront fee
  • Calling back an unrecognised number that a provider charges at a premium rate

Building up Security and Safety Against Scams

It’s a fact of life that scams exist and are becoming ever more elaborate. That does not mean we should give in to the threat of them and be constantly on edge.

For our own safety and security, we all need to be aware of how fraudsters operate and the ways they will target their victims. The better informed we are, the more able we will be to protect ourselves and our loved ones from sophisticated fraudsters. Keep an eye out for common scams here.

We’ve got plenty of other articles to help you. Read here for tips to maintain good mental health in older people.

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