With his background as a senior police detective, who better to advise us of ways to avoid being scammed than Stuart.
After his introduction, Stuart showed us a video about ‘distraction burglary’. This is where criminals, often referred to as ‘bogus callers,’ call at someone’s house posing as an official from a company or similar and try to trick the owner into letting them (and often an accomplice via the back door) into your home. Once inside, they distract you, whilst their accomplice rifles through your possessions looking for any small items worth stealing including credit cards, jewellery and money. They generally target older people so, his advice is to deny them entry unless you have specifically called them to your home and, ensure you always keep all your doors and windows locked.
Stuart’s next topic was about ‘ rogue traders’. These are people who call at your door unexpectedly offering to sell unwanted products or services, make repairs or carry out work on your house, garden or driveway. They are cunning, creative, persuasive and very convincing and, they charge inflated prices for shoddy or unnecessary work. They may tell you the work is urgent, and they will normally ask for payment up front; they may even offer to accompany you to the bank if you have insufficient cash to hand. If you need a job doing, Stuart’s advice is never buy or agree to buy anything at the door, but find a reputable company which advertises their services or comes recommended by friends or family.
Hopefully, very few of us will have been affected by ‘rogue traders’ or ‘bogus callers’ however, I doubt if there was anyone in the room who has not at some time or other, received ‘scam’ mail, phone calls or e mails all of which are designed to trick the recipient into giving out their bank details, sending cash or making money transfers. Mail and e mail scammers have invented scams for all manner of products and services so, unless you’re actually expecting a letter or email specifically about them, Stuart’s advice is “Don’t respond to them”.
Phone scams are a common way for criminals to con people out of money using various tricks to get your personal or financial information. They often sound professional and convincing however, no reputable company, bank or building society will ever ask you to disclose your personal or financial information over the phone so don’t do it. If you feel harassed or intimidated, end the call. If you’re unsure whether the caller is genuine, you can always ring the company or bank but, make sure you find the number yourself and don’t use the one provided by the caller.
Stuart’s final subject matter was about personal safety and what you can do to help keep yourself safe to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime. Whenever you use your card, enter your PIN in such a way that no one can easily memorize your keystrokes or look over your shoulder and, never give your credit-card number over the telephone unless you initiated the call. Avoid carrying a wallet in your back pocket and never leave your bag or purse unattended because a new breed of digital pickpocket has been discovered lurking in stations and shopping centres. They are armed with technology that can effortlessly steal credit and debit card details without so much as touching your wallet so, if you have a contactless credit card, make sure you keep it in a wallet or purse designed to block the radio waves.
Every year, 3.2 million adults in the UK fall victim to a scam involving deceptive mail, phone calls or e-mails- don’t be one of them.