Many individuals receive ‘interesting’ or ‘exciting’ emails telling them that they have ‘won’ a large sum of money. They will usually ask you to confirm your name, bank account details, and even job details. This is a phishing attempt for information, which will give the ‘scammer’ important information about you, often enough to steal your identity. They can apply for bank accounts and credit in your name, and if you fail to pay you are left with a default mark against your credit file. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has reported that in just over a year, £670 million was reported lost due to online fraud. You don’t have to be the next one scammed out of money if you’re aware of how the scammers work. Some victims of scamming can get their money back. Find out how.
Never Give a Person or Company Private Data
Your name, date of birth, and address details are private, yet many scammers send ‘phishing emails’ in an effort to obtain information. You may learn that you have won the lottery, gained inheritance from a long lost relative abroad, or be asked to ‘confirm’ your details via PayPal or a particular bank account. All that is required for a scammer to open a bank account or apply for a credit card is your name, address, and DOB. In 2013, CIFAS reported that there were almost 130,000 cases of identity fraud. If someone applies for a credit card or bank account in your name and fails to pay the debt, your credit score may suffer.
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If you do online banking and you notice one or more transactions that you are unsure of, phone your bank and explain the situation. They will be able to give you further information about the transactions and help you determine if it was actually you who made the transaction. In addition, if you are victim of online fraud report the incident to the police either over the phone or through Action Fraud. To check your credit file, contact one or more of the credit reference agencies – Call Credit, Equifax or Experian – with your name, addresses covering the past six years, and date of birth, together with a cheque or postal order for £2 and you will be furnished with a copy in around 7-working days. If you notice any incorrect data on your credit file, the agency must investigate the matter and remove it, if necessary.
Avoid Shopping Scams
If you purchase items online and you do not pay through an SSL encrypted merchant, there is a risk that your information could be stolen. In some cases where you do not receive the item that you have paid for, you can take advantage of the Consumer Credit Act, specifically section 75, which covers credit card purchases over £100 up to the value of £30,000. Debit cards are a little more complicated, as you are covered under something called a chargeback, but the monies must have been paid to a single merchant, and not through a third party merchant like Money Gram or Western Union. Any matter relating to finance or insurance can be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), but you must escalate this within six months of the original decision from your bank or insurance provider.
Online Money Phishers
When you are contacted by PayPal, you may notice that they always refer to you with your full name. Online scammers can make the email and website look so professional that you believe it is the company in question, but if the email begins, ‘dear customer’ or many of the other variations, this is a phisher out to steal your personal information. Banks also remind their customers that they will never ask a customer to verify their account details. In most cases, you can report phishers to PayPal, and through your own bank. Avoid giving any personal details to an email that looks and reads professionally.