Check out the latest Scam Alert!

Check out the latest Scam Alert!

by Danielle Thompson (October 2021)

In my last column, I mentioned Rip-off Britain and online shopping scams. This week, my interests are concentrated on the scammers who use social media platforms to advertise in order to grab our cash. You can see plenty of sites on Facebook etc. where services and sales are advertised which look as if they are from genuine retailers. Under current circumstances many of us are unable to shop locally as many of the major retailers have left our high streets. The sites may seem to be genuine but, before we order goods or services, we MUST take extra care to ensure that we are not conned out of our hard earned income. On a recent edition of Rip-Off Britain, Nicola Hudson of National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) gave advice about tackling scams and told viewers to report anything they were worried about relating to scams, and in particular those sites using celebrities illegally to advertise their wares, to NCSC directly by using report@phishing.gov.uk, or the number 7726.

Next, I have to tell you about a new cryptocurrency romance scam that targets dating app users. So watch out if you are using a dating app on your i-phone. The scammers are going for dating app users throughout Europe and the US in a romance scam to obtain cryptocurrency payments and to assume remote control of the users’ i-phones. The scam artists target iPhone users of dating apps including Tinder and Bumble. They lure their victims into downloading a fake cryptocurrency trading app that gives hackers remote control of the i-phone. The app is downloaded from a fraudulent website that’s designed to look and feel like a legitimate app store, so tricking victims into thinking they’re downloading from a safe source. After the download, there’s a request to purchase cryptocurrency through the cryptocurrency exchange Binance and then to transfer the funds to a wallet via the fake trading app.

So our advice today is that you should only download apps from official stores (like Google Play or the App Store). Apps downloadable from official stores have been checked to provide protection from viruses and malware. And if you have any worries or concerns, report them to NCSC as mentioned earlier.

Finally, National Trading Standards (NTS), for whom I am an appointed Scam Marshall, has been reviewing reports of victims of fraudulent service plan/warranty extensions and cover plans and it is clear that many of the victims weren’t aware of how many policies they had, and therefore how much money was disappearing from their bank accounts every month. You MUST look closely at your bank statements regularly, question any transaction you don’t understand with your bank, and ensure that you cancel Direct debits that you no longer need. If you notice something that you think could be linked with service plans or warranty extensions that you no longer need, you can get in touch with the NTS scam team on 01323 464444, or send an email to Adam.Carter@surreycc.gov.uk, as NTS have a major interest in ensuring that warranties are not being mis-sold.

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



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