Our experts were live on Which? Conversation on 8 July 2021 answering your questions. Check the comments for their responses.
We kicked off the first in a series of live Which? Conversation events with a Q&A on scams – we were live from 2pm – 3pm on 8 July 2021 in the comments.
📄 Live scams Q&A
🗓 2pm Thursday 8 July 2021
We were joined by Which? experts Lauren Merryweather (scams investigations and research) and Michael Tomlinson (Which? Money Helpline). They’ve both answered as many questions as they could in the comments below..
‘Scams’ of course, is a broad area, so we were specifically calling for your questions around:
🗨 The huge rise in text message scams in the past year
🗨 How fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of the pandemic
🗨 Action you can take to spot and avoid scams
🗨 How brands can help: what should/shouldn’t they be doing?
Check the comments for the answers.
Your scams questions answered
Click or tap on each question to expand or collapse each question.
❓ I keep getting text messages from mobile numbers that say I owe return postage on a parcel. Are these scams?
These are likely to be fake texts and you can ignore them. It’s a scam that’s been going round for quite a while now: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/three-in-five-people-have-received-a-scam-delivery-text-in-the-last-year/
The best way to stay safe from text message scams is to avoid clicking on links in texts. There’s some more advice on how to spot scam texts here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-a-messaging-scam-at2fR9B2E85g
❓ I got a call from a mobile number to say I’m being frauded by Amazon
…[this] sounds very similar to the Amazon Prime scam we’ve covered here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/amazon-prime-renewal-scam-phone-call/
Amazon’s popularity makes it an attractive target for scammers to impersonate. We’d advise that you check your Amazon account order history to make sure there aren’t any purchases you don’t recognise. You can also turn on two-factor authentication on the account for increased security:
Thanks to Jean for asking this question.
❓ How do ‘ghost brokers’ operate?
”How do ‘ghost brokers’ operate?
Fraudsters lure victims in with the offer of cheaper insurance premiums, usually via social media or by word-of-mouth. These individuals or groups pose as middlemen for well-known insurance companies, claiming they can offer you legitimate car insurance at a significantly cheaper price.
This type of fraud is typically carried out either by forging insurance documents, falsifying your details to bring the price down, or by taking out a genuine policy for you but cancelling it soon after.
Often, the victim is not aware that they have been scammed until they are involved in an accident and try to claim on the policy. ”
I wonder how many people have been tricked in this way. Many will not know, as they point out, until they need to make a claim.
Thank you very much for this and how encouraging to see such an informative and valuable service being delivered by your neighbourhood group. Interestingly, the Which? Money magazine published an article about ghost broking in March 2020 and I have copied a link here which takes you to the digital version, from Which? News:
❓ Why is Facebook allowing scammers to carry on doing what they’re doing? Why can’t social media, phone companies and network providers block these at their source?
We agree, there needs to be a more proactive approach towards stopping scammers operating on Facebook. We’re hoping social media sites could be made to take greater responsibility for what’s being posted on their platforms soon when the government’s Online Safety Bill has been finalised.
❓ I’ve been receiving emails from an unknown company I’ve never dealt with. I suspect they’re a scam, what can I do about it?
Thanks to Eric Strudwick for this question:
I have recently been receiving emails from firstname.lastname@example.org
They contain details about card payment transactions. I have never had any dealings with this company and assumed that its some kind of scam.
I guess that there is also a possibility that someone has cloned my identity.
How can I check?
Yes I would very much agree with you that certainly seems like a scam email. Many scams do seem to originate from ‘out of the blue’ contact – the telephone call, text or email we were not expecting. Certainly we should all avoid clicking on any links in these emails, as this is designed to harvest our personal data and account information.
Best practice is to simply delete these emails, but you can also forward them to the National Cyber Security Centre who have the authority to shut down and websites linked to them:
❓ It’s difficult to determine which emails from my bank are genuine and which are scams. What is Which? doing to address this issue?
Browsing recently through emails purporting to come from my bank, it was difficult to determine which were genuine and which were scams. For example, one email was a reminder that I had not paid the minimum amount on my credit card account and was threatened with hefty overdraft charges if I didn’t pay. As I don’t bank online and always pay my credit card balance in full and in time, I assumed this was a scam.
My question is, are we reaching a critical stage where technological advantages are being overshadowed and outstripped by the scammers to the point where people, including myself, are reluctant to open and reply to any email they receive from their bank? What would be the future outcome if this were the case for more and more people and what action can Which? take to prevent this predictable eventuality?
It is a sad state of affairs that we can’t always trust that an email or a phone call is genuine – scammers are using cheap tech to spoof the phone numbers and email addresses of legitimate companies. But, banks can do more to protect you – and Which? will continue to put pressure on them to do so.
For example, they can stop scammers forging their email addresses using something called DMARC (more on this here https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/banks-missing-vital-protection-against-email-scams-warns-which/) and they can protect their customer facing phone numbers using the DNO database (https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/is-your-bank-protecting-you-from-number-spoofing-scams/).
Customers can do their bit too – vote with your feet if your provider isn’t doing everything it can.
❓ Is it worth reporting well-known scams? Can I just ignore scams that have been well publicised?
Thanks to @wavechange for this question:
I realise that it is worthwhile reporting suspected scams but is there any point in reporting well known ones? For example, it seems pointless to report that I have had an automated call to say that my subscription to Amazon Prime has been renewed at a cost of £79.99.
Can I just ignore a scam that has been reasonably well publicised?
From Michael Tomlinson:
There’s certainly no obligation to report this to, presumably you mean, Action Fraud. The scam you refer to seems to have gone out to most of us – I’ve certainly had this Amazon cold call on more than one occasion. So it’s really our decision if we wish to spend time filling out the reporting tool on the Action Fraud website. It is useful to submit information as it does at least provide Action Fraud with data, which potentially can be used for investigations or to be able to publicise warnings to the public. But yes, I do accept that there have been numerous warnings about this particular scam already. Many thanks.
Even if scams are well known, it’s very helpful to report them to us here at Which? using our Scam Sharer tool. This helps us keep track of what scams are currently affecting people, and to help spread the word on how to protect yourself further.