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    Q807: Is this a scam?

    A scam is a scheme designed to con you out of money. You will be contacted out of the blue either by telephone, email or in person. Fraudsters can be very convincing so it is important to be wary and investigate any suspicious behaviour to stop you potentially losing large sums of money.

    If you are offered a deal that seems too good to be true, it more than likely is so be sure to check over all the facts and do not feel rushed into making a decision.

    Below are examples of the different types of scams you may come across:

    • Investment scams; smooth-talking sales people with brochures offer the opportunity to buy shares and investments that do not actually exist
    • Prize draw scams; Being told you have won a prize draw/competition but in order to receive the money you must dial a number - there will be a charge for this that they don't inform you of (if the company was genuine, they would make you aware that there is a cost to call them).
    • Insurance scams; companies offering insurance on products that you didn't originally buy from them. Check that the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA ) before agreeing to anything
    • Visa scams; examples of this type of scam include -
      • A person pretending to be a Home Office officer asks you to meet them/comes to your home to ask for money to process you or your partner's visa. Officers from the Home Office never collect money from you at home and will only meet you at their offices.
      • A person calls claiming that there is a serious problem with your visa and that you need to send money as soon as possible to prevent deportation, cancellation. They appear to be genuine and convincing.
      • Applicants for work visas will be asked to pay a deposit as proof that they have sufficient funds to support them in the UK. This is a scam. As part of the official process, you would only be asked for evidence not money.
      • Agents who say they can get a visa using forged documents and agents who say they can speed up the process, can't.
    • Vehicle matching scam; after advertising a vehicle you receive a call saying there is an immediate buyer. They then ask for an upfront fee which will be refunded if the car isn't sold; the car isn't sold and no refund is given

    • Pyramid scams; You are asked to pay into a scheme and promised that you receive money when you get to the top of the scale, however you never can reach the top.

    • Courier scams; fraudsters are sending couriers out to collect your bank card or money after calling to inform you there has been a fraudulent payment on your card (see Q887 for more details on telephone/courier scams).

    • Pension scams; the most common tactics include - offer of a 'free pension review,' promise of high returns on your investment, saying you can access your pension before the age of 55 or wanting to transfer your money overseas. They may tell you they are part of the Pension Wise Scheme - be wary as pension wise would never contact you out of the blue.

    • Website scams; designed to look official but ask for payment on items that would be free on the genuine site e.g. EHIC card. Be wary of fraudsters cloning bank websites and sending emails pretending to be from banks and stealing credit card details.

    • Computer virus scams; small computer programs that are used to help scammers undertake their scam. In order to protect yourself you need to -
      • create passwords that are long, unique, a mix of letters and numbers and that you change regularly.
      • use anti virus software that is kept updated and when installing new software, use a secure site which begins with https:
      • leave your firewall switched on and don't open suspicious or unknown emails, attachments, texts etc
      • before entering payment card details on a website, check that the link is secure (indicated by a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, NOT on page itself.) If you click on the padlock, check the security certificate.

    If you suspect a scam you should report it to both the Financial Conduct Authority and Action Fraud (see websites in related information) If the company is not registered with FCA , you can report them on 0800 111 6768. Do not give out personal details or money if you are unsure; once the money is transferred it is usually extremely difficult to reclaim it.

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