LAST week we had a story in Champion of a vulnerable Southport resident being conned by scammers who sent him a letter, purporting to be from his bank, saying that because of a scam, he should send cash to a West Midlands address to fix compensation.
Fortunately a family member recognised the scam possibility and informed the police. So, I want to advise everyone to always take five and stop, challenge and protect yourself and your family and friends as soon as any such message arrives, whether by e-mail, by phone or by ordinary post.
It’s OK to ignore any such requests. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police, so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. We are happy to support the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign this Take Five Week (September 13-17).
This week one of my Sefton Citizens Advice colleagues has just reported receipt of a scam email which offers a share of 30% of a legacy. It’s a tale that we have heard before, where the scammer(s) produce a long story about their illness and the fact that they are in the final months of life, and their need is to find a reliable and trustworthy person to look after their very large cash funds for a 30% share of the money held in a USA bank account.
As always, the story is fairly long and tearful, and hopes are expressed for a response so that information can be exchanged, and doubtless an attempt to empty the recipients bank a/c. will be the result. Our advice, as always, is to report a scam like this to email@example.com and to block the sender. Whenever you get an email from an unknown sender, take 5, stop, challenge and protect yourself. Try to talk with family members and/or friends before you do anything.
Finally, a short warning for students as they start a fresh term of study. If you’ve never had to pay tax, and you take up part-time work whilst at university, you could get caught out by a tax scam. HMRC will never email or text you about a tax rebate, or threaten you over unpaid tax. Here is their link to report scams of this sort if you’re not sure firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check HMRC’s guidance on recognising scams at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/identify-hmrc-related-scam-phone-calls-emails-and-text-messages
Finally, Citizens Advice has a very useful website for help in dealing with scams. Just check the link https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/
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 . 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment.
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