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Protecting yourself from fraud

30th September 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Every year, millions of people are targeted by scam artists who manage to defraud people all over the world. Older people are often more vulnerable to fraud, as they may be more trusting of a stranger, or not so up to speed with the latest technology. However, by becoming more vigilant and taking the necessary precautions, there’s a much lower percentage of being caught out.

Here, we’ve put together some tips so you can make sure that you’re protected as much as possible against any fraudulent activity.

Check your bank statements regularly

Many people targeted by scammers are initially unaware that it has occurred. Keeping a check on your finances is advised, as it can be a great help if you are able to let your bank and the police know as soon as possible. By knowing what payments you have authorised to be taken each month, it will be easy to see whether anything has been withdrawn without your permission. Also, if you are familiar with the way regular payments show up on your statements, any unusual activity will be easy to spot.

It can be assumed that money disappearing from your account will be obvious. However, scammers will sometimes take very small amounts over a long period of time in the hopes that this will be less noticeable, so it is important to be vigilant at all times.

Ensure that the online seller has an address

When buying products online, you should check that the seller has a physical address and a phone number, as this means they are more likely to be legit. This also means that if you have any problems, it will be easier for you to get in touch with the company to organise an exchange or refund if you are not happy with the product. For example, when investing your money in a stairlift for the elderly, you can see in our contact us section that we have a variety of contact details so that you can get in touch in your preferred way.

Only give to registered charities

Following disasters, pop-up charities tend to spring up overnight, but you are best to give your money to an established charity. They may be legit, but even so, they can often lack the infrastructure which will help your money reach the people who need it most. Very few charities now send collectors to your door, so if this occurs, it may be best for you to ask how you can donate in another way, so you have time to research and ensure the money is not being collected to finance illegal activity.

Don’t provide bank details over the phone if possible

You should be wary about providing your bank details to people who contact you on the phone or via email. If possible, should someone call you, ask for them to phone you back before providing further details, and use this time to research the phone number by entering it online to find out the company’s background. The internet is a great place to find reviews too, so should you have any doubts, see what other people are saying about this company online. If a company has previously been found to be fraudulent, it is likely that this will become apparent very quickly as many people detail their negative experiences online in order to help others.

Use credit cards or services such as PayPal

When buying products via websites, it is much safer to pay using a credit card or online payment system such as PayPal. This is because they usually offer purchase protection and should be able to reimburse you should you experience any fraudulent activity. However, if you are signing up for a credit card, it is worth checking with the provider before you commit, just to ensure that you are covered.

Report scams

If you become suspicious, or believe you have been targeted by fraudsters, then it is important that you report this. You can do so by getting in touch with Action Fraud, your local police or contacting your bank, who may be able to help. You may also wish to inform trading standards, who can offer you advice, as well as use the information to potentially warn others or get in touch with the genuine company who the fraudsters are mimicking.

Image Credit: HM Revenue & Customs, Ken Teegardin, Howard Lake, Simon Cunningham (flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.