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Fraud Q&A

23rd May 2021

I received a call from someone who said I had to make a payment to HMRC or face a fine, so I transferred more than £3,000, everything I had in my savings account. I realised as soon as I put the phone down it was a scam, but it was too late. Is there anything I can do? I feel so stupid.

You may be able to get your money back, depending on the circumstances, so contact your bank immediately. TSB is the only bank in Britain to offer a fraud refund guarantee, which, subject to terms and conditions, refunds innocent victims of fraud on TSB accounts. Click here for more information.

After speaking to the bank, you should report what has happened to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, as soon as possible. You can contact them online here, or call 0300 123 2040.

They will give you a crime reference number, and pass the details to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, who will assess the case and determine next steps in the investigation.

You should not feel stupid or embarrassed. Fraudsters are experts at manipulating people, and it is not your fault you have been targeted. Charities such as Victim Support can provide advice if you are stressed or worried.

Citizens Advice has more information for fraud victims here.

My father is in his 80s and is plagued by cold callers offering him so-called investment opportunities. He finds the calls confusing, and I worry he will be manipulated into handing over money. What steps can we take to protect him?

Older people can be at greater risk of fraud, especially if they live alone. They may be lonely, and more likely to talk to callers, or less tech-savvy and so vulnerable to online scams.

Have a chat with your father about potential scams and encourage him to hang up on cold callers. Check if his landline provider has a call-blocking or screening service, which could prevent cold-callers from getting through. Ofcom has more information here.

And encourage him to sign up with the Telephone Preference Service, which prevents businesses from cold-calling registered numbers. It will not stop all scammers, but should reduce the number of calls he receives.

The charity AgeUK has a comprehensive guide on keeping older people safe from fraud here.

I clicked a link in a text message to track a delivery without thinking, as I was not expecting a package. How do I know if it was a scam?

If you were not expecting a delivery, it is highly likely this was a malware scam, designed to make you download an app that allows fraudsters to remotely access data on your device.

To be safe, you should restore your phone to factory settings, and change all your online passwords.

You can also report the message to your phone network by forwarding it to 7726, after which you should delete it.

My grandmother left me £12,000, which I would like to invest. I saw an ad on social media for a new cryptocurrency, and the returns sound amazing. Is it safe?

If an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies, and while some such as Bitcoin are starting to enter the mainstream, the market is unregulated and huge losses are possible. There is also significant potential for fraud around virtual currencies, such as scammers taking your money for a non-existent cryptocurrency, or inflated values at the launch of a currency - known as an Initial Coin Offering - which then plummet.

Think carefully before you make any investment decisions and speak to a professional financial adviser.

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