Fraud is not a victimless crime; it can have a devastating impact on individuals, both financially and emotionally. Below are a number of examples of frauds / scams perpetrated against individuals. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list. For further information or advice, please visit Action Fraud, the Metropolitan Police, Get Safe Online or Age UK.
Council Tax / Business Rates scams
There are a number of scams affecting Council Tax / Business Rates payers such as:
Refund scams: the victim receives a call from someone claiming to represent the Council. The caller advises that thousands are owed in tax rebates and an upfront fee is required.
Outstanding payments scam: the resident is targeted from someone claiming to be from the Council and demands immediate payment to settle outstanding Council Tax arrears. If you owe Council Tax, you would have received a reminder notice or final notice from the Council Tax Department. To check the call is genuine, contact the Council Tax Department on 01327 871100.
Re-banding service: some companies will offer to check your Council Tax band and appeal on your behalf. However they will charge a fee for this service. The Valuation Office Agency can provide free advice on how to appeal against your Council Tax band.
Credit / Debit card fraud
There are a number of credit / debit card frauds such as:
Stolen card fraud: a card is physically stolen from your possession and then used to obtain goods and services. This usually occurs after the victim has been seen enter their PIN at a Chip&Pin machine or cashpoint.
Skimming: a process where the genuine data on a card's magnetic strip is electronically copied onto another card, without the legitimate cardholder's knowledge. This usually occurs when using a Cash Machine that has been tampered with or where a corrupt employee is a shop or pub puts your card through a device to copy the data.
Card not present fraud: where offenders obtain card details which are then used to obtain goods and services online, by telephone or mail order.
Identity theft is when someone steals personal information and uses it to take over bank accounts, apply for credit or commit other crimes using the stolen identity. Identity thieves steal information by:
obtaining personal information from social media sites
stealing information from wallets, purses or handbags (see below)
phishing emails (see below)
obtaining individual credit reports
There are a number of ways to protect yourself against identity fraud such as regularly checking bank and credit card statements and reporting any concerns to the bank or financial service provider; shred all personal information before disposing of it; never respond to unsolicited emails or phone calls.
Phishing is an e-mail fraud method used to obtain personal and financial information which they can then use to obtain money. The fraudster sends a legitimate-looking email, usually from a bank or credit card company, requesting individuals update or confirm their account details by clicking a link. The link takes the recipient to a bogus website and requests usernames, passwords, bank account or credit card account information. These details are then used by the fraudster to take control of the accounts.
To protect against phishing, individuals should never respond to unexpected emails requesting information. Remember: legitimate companies will never ask customers to provide log-in details such as passwords, this information will only be required when logging in to a service such as online banking.
Many women are leaving themselves open to huge financial risks if their bag is snatched. Naturally many women carry their credit or debit card with them but when combined with other things in the handbag such as payslips, driving licence, National Insurance Number and utility bills, a fraudster has all they need to commit identity theft. As well as the financial risks, many women carry their house keys along with proof of their address which could place them at risk of further attacks within their home.
It is important that women take steps to minimise the risks by de-cluttering their handbags and only taking essential items in their handbags.