Don’t fall for it!
On Tuesday 15 November, attendees at our weekly coffee morning were treated to a presentation by a local couple, Alex and Nick, representing “Operation Bodyguard” – an initiative of Norfolk Constabulary aimed at reducing the number of people tricked out of money, and more, by scammers, whether online or by telephone.
21 people attended the hour-long presentation, which began with one example of a scam which is becoming more common: a house owner was away, and received a phone call from a neighbour, asking “What’s going on?”, as there was work being carried out on his house. It transpired that in his absence, and without his knowledge, the house had been sold, and the new owner already had renovation in progress.
Various scam alert services were recommended, including Action Fraud UK (tel 0300 123 2040). Norfolk Victim Support (tel 0300 303 3706 / out of hours 08 08 16 89 111) is a very proactive service, and although some are reluctant to ask them for help, are highly recommended. The Land Registry’s Property Alert Service is also recommended, as is using Google to search for “which scam alert service”. You can also refer to the Financial Conduct Authority for scam advice.
We were reminded that a telephone scammer can remain in the line for five minutes after the call recipient has ended the call – so if you were to have a quick think about, say, an “offer” and then decide to make a call about it, you may be talking again to the same person without realising. The advice was to “Take 5” – take at least five minutes to think through the call you received, before taking in haste any action which you may later regret. No bank or reputable organisation will ever give a time limit within which you must decide on anything to do with finance.
As most of us are probably aware, criminals can also use social media to collect information about users. Be careful about what is included in photographs you post, and be wary of revealing your location, birth date, or any other personal details. Always use different, and unique, passwords for accounts on line – make them illogical, mix upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks at random – and keep a record somewhere in your house of those that you are using, and for which account.
If you do have to report to the police a fraud or scam which has meant that you have lost financially, for example, never be apologetic, or imply that you were in any way at fault, otherwise you could be held responsible or liable for some or all of the loss.
Scams are, we were told, now prevalent in Norfolk: “Remember, these people are professional, technological financial criminals.”