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The most common scams to avoid in 2021

Older woman who has been caught out by online scam

Scams are unfortunately prevalent in today’s society, where scammers from all over the world contact innocent people in order to try and access their money. What’s more, oftentimes we can see scams evolving and becoming cleverer, catching even the most tech-savvy out on occasion.

If you are worried about scams and want to know what to look out for, in this article we look at the most common scams operating in 2021, as well as some ways to detect when something could be dangerous.

The most common scams in 2021

  • Coronavirus Scams
  • White Goods Scams
  • Romance Fraud
  • Impersonation Scams

Coronavirus Scams

The ongoing global pandemic is something that has left many people vulnerable already, and, for scammers, it’s been a time to strike. During the past year, we’ve seen many scams appear centring around COVID-19, from scams asking for payment for vaccinations to spreading misinformation in order to get you to click a dodgy link. Luckily, many people in the UK have now had vaccinations so should be more aware of how they will be contacted regarding this, however, it’s important to realise that these scams will adapt with the times and could continue for years.

If you are contacted in any way about coronavirus, then do your own research and check the government website or talk to a friend or family member about what’s happened to authenticate what you’ve received.

Which? offers a thorough breakdown of many of the coronavirus scams currently operating. See it here.

White Goods Scams

One prominent scam in 2021 is that of white goods scamming. As these scams don’t feel as directly linked to your finances (though they certainly are) it can be easy to fall for them.

The team at Friends Against Scams, a National Trading Standards initiative created to fight back against scammers, highlighted this as a major concern for 2021: “A scam that is particularly prevalent at the moment is a telephone scam regarding appliance/white goods repair/insurance. The criminals behind the scam often pretend to be calling from a legitimate and well-known insurance company to say that an appliance owned by the consumer is out of warranty and they require payment.”

Older man on a video call date

Romance Fraud

Something else that’s happened over the past year due to coronavirus is that many more people have decided to try their luck at finding love online whilst stuck at home. With meeting people authentically in the outside world a lot harder during lockdowns and restrictions, turning online to meet potential partners makes sense.

However, you should always ensure the person you are talking to IS in fact the person that you think they are and be cautious until you’ve had confirmation that they are to be trusted. A good way to do this is to arrange a meeting early in the conversation, or, if that’s not possible, set up a video call where you can confirm the person you are talking to is who you think it is.

Further still, even if the person is legitimate, if they are asking for money from you, it’s a red flag that they may simply be using online dating for financial gain and you should never send someone money that you are not happy to lose.

Impersonation Scams

The umbrella term of ‘impersonation scams’ covers a large range of methods, however, as a basic definition it means scammers who are impersonating a business or organisation. This is most commonly done with financial businesses such as banks, insurances firms etc.

As these businesses are highly likely to be used at the centre of a scam, they will all have processes in place to help you know you are talking to a legitimate person and, you’ll never receive a call from them asking for private information pertaining to your banking. If you think someone may be imitating your bank in order to try and scam you, take a look on your bank’s website for information on how they distinguish themselves from scammers or call them on a number provided online or on your banking information to find out more.

Mature women showing laptop screen to daughter

How to protect yourself against scams

  • Be overly cautious
  • Get a second opinion
  • Be discrete on the internet

Be overly cautious

The best way that any person can protect themselves against scams of any kind is to be overly cautious. Although it’s a sad reality thinking we cannot trust everyone we encounter, being sure to scrutinise everything from an unexpected text message to an authentic-sounding phone call can make a big difference.

The team at Friends Against Scams suggests this also, telling us: “Always be wary of phone calls requesting personal or financial information and if in doubt, hang up and seek advice.”

Always think to yourself, ‘did I expect this to happen?’ ‘Does this sound too good to be true?’ An unexpected phone call, for example, with an offer that’s too good to be true might be just that. Even if you have no reason to believe the call isn’t legitimate, any business that is calling for valid reasons should be more than comfortable with you taking precautions such as calling them back on a number you know is them.

Get a second opinion

If you are unsure about something, ask for a second opinion. Many people are making themselves keenly aware of scams that are going on and, there may be people in your life that are more clued up than you are. If you do receive a suspicious email, try calling a friend and asking about it.

We must advise you to not forward any suspicious messages such as emails or text messages to friends or family though, in case they are then targeted themselves.

Be discrete online

Being discrete when online can go a long way to ensuring you aren’t targeted by scammers. Although it can be tempting to think your Facebook profile, for example, is a safe space, you never know who is watching so disclosing private and personal information, especially in regards to your financial situation, should never be done.

If you do believe you’re being scammed or have been a victim of a scam, you should report it to help ensure others aren’t as unlucky. To do this, you should report to Action Fraud. You can also talk to Citizens Advice if you have fallen victim to a scam about how to recuperate what you may have lost.

Friends Against Scams says: “You can report a scam to Action Fraud on 0300 1232040 or for advice on scams, call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.”

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