As part of Scams Awareness Month (SAM2014), it’s important to highlight the consequences of being on the wrong end of a fraudster.
Around three million people in the UK fall victim to scammers each year, losing anything from several pounds to thousands in some cases.
Tackling this issue requires everybody to be watchful and responsible, and raises a number of issues concerning security measures when purchasing goods.
The first step to stopping a scam is to spot it – many appear in formats that look legitimate but on closer inspection will turn out to be bogus.
The Citizens Advice Bureau is behind SAM2014 and the organisation is keen to protect people from unscrupulous fraudsters.
Around 84% of identity fraud is carried out via the internet, so protecting personal information is essential – especially where bank details are concerned.
In 2013, for example, the most common type of fraud was via online shopping and auction scams, costing consumers around £63.3 million.
But only about 5% of scams are actually reported, suggesting that more people need to talk about the issue in order to tackle it.
Protecting yourself with a prepaid card
One such way of tackling credit or debit card fraud online is to use a prepaid card, as there are no ties to bank accounts.
Funds on the card can also be managed and monitored online, while additional security such as PIN and Chip recognition also exists on certain card products.
At the same time, cards can be replaced if they are lost or stolen without funds being affected, providing further protection against potential fraud.
A prepaid card is also a great tool for managing finances, as only the money on the card can be spent, ensuring you don’t spend more than you would like.
What to look out for
When purchasing goods online it’s important to watch out for websites selling goods that might not actually exist, or for platforms with spoof payment services.
People should also watch out for investment fraud, whereby they may be encouraged to invest in false shares or credits that are highly unreliable.
Other forms of fraud can see websites being set-up to mimic those of high-profile companies that will ask for card details, claiming the need to validate a product in many cases.
Many of these occur in the form of email and phone scams, so it’s important to be vigilant should an unexpected email suddenly pop up in your inbox.
Tackling fraud with good communication
The key to tackling fraud is good communication – companies and local authorities will be able to address any concerns should you think you are being tricked.
In most cases, if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is, while website addresses should always be checked for security.
A key point to remember is that banks will never contact you asking for any details, so any emails or contact of this type should be reported immediately.
This protects both you and anyone else that may be falling foul of the same fraudster.