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Check out the latest Scam Alert!

Check out the latest Scam Alert!

by Danielle Thompson (October 2021)

I was very pleased to see that Rip-off Britain is back on BBC1 in the mornings. There’s always something of interest for anti-scammers to watch and take note of. One issue that came to light in Thursday October 7’s programme revolved around online shopping and how you can be caught out at the till by “invitations” to sign up for “membership” for offers of future reductions on your purchases.

One couple found that after purchase of a keep-fit item, they ended up with a monthly Direct Debit of £44 set up on their bank account which, unfortunately, they did not notice until some time later. That’s why it is always necessary to read carefully all messages at the till and to take care NOT to activate a “membership” that you do not want!

Now, let’s consider car insurance scams that can leave you out of pocket. When we think of scams, we often imagine a fraudster calling someone pretending to be from their bank, or someone clicking on a dodgy link and sharing personal details. However, scammers also target drivers by making false claims in an attempt to profit from their policies. Car insurance scams can be dangerous and can leave you hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds, out of pocket.

The most common UK car insurance scammers to watch out for are known in the trade as Ghost Brokers, and this is how the scam works. The fraudsters pose as insurance brokers and sell fake car insurance policies that cost far less than a typical policy would. As young drivers usually face higher insurance prices, they are often targeted by scammers advertising these discounted 'policies' on social media, university notice boards and anywhere young drivers might spot them.

The RAC flags that some insurance policies may be genuinely purchased via insurance brokers, but are then modified by changing the driver's age or occupation to reduce the price significantly – making it worthless to the driver should they need to make a claim. In some cases, the ghost broker may cancel the policy after selling it to the driver and get a refund, leaving the victim with no cover. You should always buy your car insurance from a trusted, recognised brand, either through a comparison site like Compare the Market, or Money Supermarket, or direct from the likes of  Direct Line, RAC or Churchill. Avoid buying a policy via social media channels or WhatsApp.

Finally, fake marketing surveys promising gift cards of up to £100 for filling them out are impersonating the likes of ASDA, Morrisons and Tesco. Fraudsters are using the same tactics by posing as the UK’s most well-known shops in order to gain your trust and send you on to potentially dangerous websites. ASDA, Morrisons and Tesco have been made aware of fake emails claiming that your opinion is important and that, for taking part in a marketing survey, you will get a £100 gift card from Asda, or £90 gift card from Morrisons and Tesco as a “promo award”. Each email is designed to make you follow the link by promising a large reward in return for doing very little – a common phishing tactic. But this ‘survey’ is not being run by ASDA, or Morrisons nor Tesco.

None of these are genuine, so DO NOT click on links to proceed.

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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