Scams and frauds come in all shapes and sizes; online and offline, sophisticated and simple, large-scale and small-time. Around 70% of frauds involve some element of cyber enablement.
However, most frauds will have features that mark them out as scams, so there are some rules of thumb that will help you avoid the majority of scams:
Be suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true. Unbelievable offers and guaranteed get-rich schemes are nearly always scams.
Wait before making a decision on an offer or deal and get independent or legal advice – scammers will often pressure you to act quickly.
Do not sign anything or hand over money before checking the individual or company is legitimate.
Log on to a website directly rather than clicking on a link in an email
Never give personal details or banking details to anyone you do not know or trust.
Paying by credit card offers greater protection than other payment methods from fraud and non-delivery. Avoid cash payments or money transfers. Is it only unintelligent people who fall for frauds?
You may consider yourself bright, but people from all walks of life can fall victim to scams.
For example, Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards came across the case of an ex-company director in Ware who was taken in by false investment scams. He put lots of money in schemes involving carbon credits, art, fine wine and diamonds, and was targeted by scammers until he'd lost the majority of his money. It is estimated that this amounts to more than £1,000,000, and he now lives with family after to having to sell his home and his real investment portfolio. What if you do fall victim to a fraud or online crime?
Report the crime as swiftly as you can to Action Fraud, the national reporting agency for fraud and cybercrime.
If there is a crime being committed right now or if you are in danger, call the police on 999.
If debit or credit cards, online banking or cheques are involved, your first step should be to contact your bank or credit card company.