Check out this week's Scam Alert

Check out this week's Scam Alert

by Tom Martin (February 2021)

At last some good news as the current lockdown starts to unwind. 

But still the scam stories go on and on and on. I have noticed how the cryptocurrency investments are being promoted widely, especially as interest rates have dived, and savers are desperately searching for ways in which to maintain regular income.

Action Fraud say that they received over 750 reports this week about Bitcoin-related phishing emails that use fake celebrity endorsements to try and lure victims into investment scams.

The links in the emails lead to fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your money, as well as personal and financial information. Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family member, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions. Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA.

If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money. For more information about how to invest safely, please visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart . Report suspicious emails: If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding the email to - report@phishing.gov.uk.

And now news of another scam text to watch out for: The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) reports that it has received evidence of a text scam themed around the UK's exit from the European Union.

The text message reads: "we need to verify your identity to keep up with EU standards". The message then instructs the recipient that "to avoid restrictions" they must visit a website to upload their personal details. The text is part of a phishing scam attempting to use the United Kingdom's exit from the EU as a cover for stealing personal information.

At what is an extremely vulnerable time for millions of people, this scam hits the public at the same time that COVID-19-themed scams are active.

Katherine Hart, a Lead Officer at CTSI, said: "Scammers are using public uncertainty over the Brexit deal to obtain crucial personal details which could put people's bank accounts at risk of being stolen.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many different scams target the public along those lines, while Brexit is providing another theme for scammers to use.

"It is vital that the public reports these messages to the authorities, and especially any websites connected to them. Doing so provides essential intelligence and enables the authorities to take down malicious websites and fraud networks swiftly."

To report scams, contact Action Fraud, or, if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland. 

To report email scams, contact the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) by emailing  report@phishing.gov.uk

For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133

The public and businesses are encouraged to join Friends Against Scams and Businesses Against Scams, respectively. These initiatives aim to protect and prevent people and businesses from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line

0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk


 

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