Sad to say, fraud of one kind or another, appears to be thriving. Even the most technologically competent appear to be as vulnerable as the rest of us because we are too trusting; we trust our banks and service providers, failing to understand that criminals use that trust to steal from us.
Whether or not we bank online, organisations can set up direct debits without our knowledge. Banks could be liable to repay any loss, but not if the customer has (unintentionally) provided bank details to the fraudster.
Scamming has reached a frightening level of sophistication, and it is surprising how many people have been victims, from phone calls, purporting to be from banks, internet providers or other services. During conversations explaining (non-existent) problems, we are told that the solution requires us to follow instructions, giving fraudsters access to our computer, personal information and, potentially, bank details.
Emails are another trick, requiring us to click on a connection; don’t do it! Just delete.
Despite all advice, we can be panicked into following instructions; instead, be alert to potential scams, refuse to comply, put the phone down, and turn the computer off. Then make contact, via a different phone line, with the service provider to check if they did call, or email. The answer will be ‘no’ because they follow procedures to protect customers’ interests, as well as their own.
So, keep your personal security under review, and monitor bank accounts.
Scams are not just remote. People knock on doors, asking for all sorts of personal information about, for example, energy costs, suggesting it is time to move to something cheaper. Many of us are guilty of paying more than we should for energy, but never hand over a bill from an existing provider to these callers, however convincing they are, and never sign up to change, handing over bank details on the doorstep! Instead, research the best deals online.
You want a pet? Ensure you purchase dogs and cats from a registered breeder, whom you visit to see how they are cared for, selecting your pet in the knowledge that it will be healthy, and sold at a reasonable price.
Remember, some pet dealers are currently charging thousands of pounds for sick animals, some illegally imported. So seek advice and recommendations from your vet, the Dogs Trust or Cats Protection; or why not rehome a dog or cat from a charity?
With demand high, beware of criminals who are stealing dogs – from their homes, when tied up outside shops or running loose in parks and open spaces. Cats are also vulnerable to theft, so keep your beloved pets close at all times.