Scams come in many different forms, but most of them aim at deceiving people into giving away sensitive information or parting with their money.
Anyone targeted by suspicious advertisements or sales pitches should report them to the authorities. If in doubt, trusted friends or relatives should be consulted about anyone offering deals that seem too good to be true.
A spokesman from the Citizens Advice Bureau said: “It is a disgrace that scammers often target elderly people with sophisticated scams – for instance, posing as their bank. People regularly come to us with heart-breaking stories about losing their money and it’s important that they know what to look out for and what they can do.”
What to look out for:
* Online shopping scams: Bogus websites, goods that don’t exist; spurious payment services
* Dating scams: Scammers using dating websites to build up relationships and then asking for financial help
* Courier scams: Scammers posing on the telephone as the police or a victim’s bank, warning of fraudulent payments on a card, then visiting the person’s address to collect the card.
* If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or say “No thank you.”
* Persuasive sales patter? Just say “No thanks.”
* If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
* You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
* Walk away from job advertisements that ask for money in advance.
* Never give out your bank details to anyone you don’t completely trust, or to someone contacting you out of the blue.
* Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card or ask for your PIN.
* If you’ve handed over cash, you might not be able to get it back, but if you’ve paid by credit card you have some protection. If you used a debit card you could try asking your bank for a chargeback.
What to do if you have been scammed (or had a narrow escape):
* Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to stop it happening to others
* Report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506
* Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau adviceline on 08444 111444