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Financial Scamming Ask me Anything - COMPLETE

Hi everyone,

Keith Brown will be here in ten minutes to answer your questions. Please leave a "reply" to this post with any questions you have on financial scamming.

If you have previously asked a question then please watch out below for your answers.

The Simplyhealth Team

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Giggog The world is changing at an incredibly fast rate regarding technology. Many senior people are being forced into usage of a technology not fully understood. Considering their vulnerability, wouldn't it be a good idea for ANY/EVERY electronically based company dealing with financial transactions, to have, by law, a team dedicated to investigating spoof e-mails with an easy reporting system in place for such. I personally find it frustrating, when I try to send suspicious emails to a fraud team for investigation, only to find there isn't one!!

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Giggog Thank you for your question. You are correct, more and more elderly citizens are using technology, which is to be commended. However as you point out this does leave them vulnerable to spoof emails. All companies trading via the internet will have a team dedicated to protecting their website and their customers, however it is very difficult for them to stop those with a criminal intent from sending spoof emails. What we really need is for the internet service providers to police the internet more effectively, and you will have noted that recently the Prime Minister has been pushing for internet service providers to do this more effectively.

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FOXLEW Sent off for some shoes the Chinese company send a cheap pair of trainers and they won’t refund my money is there anything I can do to get the money back? I paid by credit card

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FOXLEW First of all, well done for paying by credit card. The credit card consumer protection means that if the goods are not received the credit card provider has to give you a refund. This shows the importance of using a credit card as opposed to a debit card. If you had used a debit card or transferred the funds electronically you would not get your money back. I hope this helps.

Clearly part of your problem is ‘were the pair of trainers you received what you ordered?’ or something completely different? The point I’m trying to make here is that if you get what you have ordered and you simply don’t like them it is much harder to persuade a company from China to accept the goods back and make a refund, and in this case the credit card company is not at fault as you have paid and received the goods you ordered. Therefore a reminder to us all – check carefully what you are buying on the internet, especially when it is coming from outside the UK as your statutory rights are significantly reduced outside of the EU.

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S0ph1e Question for the Prof. My husband was diagnosed with dementia & Alzheimer's 4yrs ago. Shortly b4 he insisted we take equity release. A few months ago the agent contacted us re the possibility of a better interest. When l mentioned my husband's illness he got very cagey & said he could only discuss matters with my husband but suddenly decided we didn't qualify for an improved deal. Felt dodgy, why should l b excluded? SF

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S0ph1e I’m sorry to hear of your problems regarding an equity release scheme. What your story clearly identifies is the need to make legal provision via a Lasting Power of Attorney before your loved one loses mental capacity (ie has Dementia and Alzheimer’s). Without this legal provision it is very difficult to act on your loved one’s behalf in a legal sense and therefore my strongest advice to everybody reading this is to take out a Lasting Power of Attorney before it is too late.

I suspect in your case when the agent contacted you and realised that your husband has subsequently been diagnosed with Dementia he backed off because he realised your husband did not have the mental capacity to undertake a change to the contract.

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EM1234 I would like to know if you are scammed out of money how would you go about getting it back? Or can you even get it back?

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EM1234 Great question. Usually any money that you’ve been scammed out of leaves the UK within 30 minutes and you will never get the money back. Therefore do consider using a credit card so that the credit card company has responsibility to refund you any funds paid if services or products are not received. It also should remind us all of the importance of taking extreme care when making any payment. Always take 5 ie stop, pause, think and ask a friend is it a good idea or a potential scam?

PS whilst typing this response I have literally received a scam telephone call from somebody asking me about a car accident I have been involved in. I have not been involved in a car accident. This was a complete scam and just shows that we are all vulnerable to scammers, even the Prof!

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katieoxo60 Question for Professor Brown, how do you get your money back / or can you if you pay by credit card and the company concerned farms your work out to another company who is part of their group, and things go wrong?, plus you find out they are vastly overchargeing and giving incorrect information about how to set up a trust fund. I lost £2,544.90 to such a company and never did get the trust fund set up, this company never even applied to the land registry to set up the property trust, and the credit card company said they could not help for some legal reason that was not covered on this transaction.

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Hi katieoxo60 . As per my previous answers, the credit card company should have liability for this payment and be prepared to reimburse you unless there is some information missing from your question? I would point out there are a number of scammers out there claiming to set up trust funds and property trusts and therefore take great care if you are engaged in this area. Do consider using a credible company and/or a solicitor to undertake this work for you to ensure it is legal and legitimate.

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Hi Keithbrown. My grandad was scammed out of money via somebody over the phone saying they were his bank and asking for his bank details. Is there anyway he can get the money back? And how can he make sure he isn't caught out again?

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Jacki66 When my husband had a road traffic accident causing a carotid artery dissection and then a stroke, he was left not only physically disabled but severely mentally impaired as well. He was 44 and is now 49. We had a number of rental properties and we had to sort out serious financial commitments as he never worked again. He fire-sold his properties and I went bankrupt and mine were auctioned. He then got scammed by an options company called AA Options which was an absolute boiler room scam. I do not know how they got his business but when I told them to back off they constantly hounded him by way of phone to deposit more and more money at £250 a shot despite me telling them that he was severely disabled and unable to handle these situations competently. They just laughed in my face. I then contacted Trading Standards and they dealt with them and I managed to get the money back from his bank (Lloyds) because I felt they should have protected their customers with additional needs and they did not even though they knew his cognitive status. However, my question to you is what can be done about these online companies as this must be rife and is certainly not appropriate for financial dealings of any sort, let alone for severely mentally impaired members of the public?

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Thanks for your question Jacki66 . As per my earlier responses, this shows the critical importance of all of us getting a Lasting Power of Attorney. Your husband was only 44 when he had his road traffic accident and this reminds us that a severe mental impairment can occur at any stage of life due to an accident such as your husband’s. These legal protections will help you all to prevent others experiencing the problems that Jacki66 has had.

Jacki66 you are correct, there are many online companies that are acting in either an illegal or underhand way. Trading Standards work tirelessly to try and get these companies closed down but the honest truth is that as quickly as they are closed new ones open. There is simply so much money to be made by this form of criminal intent that it is going to be very difficult to prevent this form of fraud. We all therefore need to be very vigilant and protect ourselves.

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My mum refuses to use any form of technology to pay for anything, or sign up to a PayPal account. She doesn't have a credit card, and so she asks me to do all her transacting online and then she gives me the cash which is very annoying as I am largely cashless and do everything online. How can I reassure her that using technology is largely safer in many ways than traditional transactions, and what to look out for?

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Hi LouH90 What a difficult question! Clearly every individual has their own right to decide what they will and what they will not do, however this does at times cause unintended consequences and indeed frustrations to other relatives.

Have you considered setting up either a joint account with your mother or a separate account in your name which you will only use for your mother's business so that all cash transactions from this account are clearly to do with your mother. This might make managing the account more transparent and easier for you to manage.

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Hi freezingspark I am so sorry to hear this news regarding your grandad. Unfortunately as you can imagine I hear this type of story on almost a daily basis.

My first point to all followers is that your bank or building society will NEVER phone you and ask for your bank details. If anybody ever does this, it is always a scam so beware and do not give your details.

Clearly one of the difficulties we have is that often our elderly relatives are more susceptible to being scammed in this sort of way. My advice is to have a conversation with your relatives/loved ones about the risk of this sort of scam.

In my own case, whilst caring for my mother who had early onset Dementia I took the decision (with her permission) to add myself to her bank details so that I could monitor her account via a banking app. Clearly you do need the permission of your relative as you will have access to their funds but in my case it was the only way I felt I was able to protect my mother as she was being scammed frequently and this action did help prevent future fraud.

With regards to getting the money back, this is very unlikely. As per my previous response, the money is usually outside of the UK within 30 minutes, however it is always worthwhile reporting this to the bank as it might help if there is a further fraudulent action on the account.

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Thanks Keith, thats really useful. I didn't think about adding another person to the bank account but seems sensible for someone trusted to be able to see whats going on.

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Anonymous question - Are there certain areas associated with different scams? e.g. regions in the UK?

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Generally speaking scamming occurs throughout the UK, however our research has clearly identified that it is the lonely elderly citizen that is most frequently targeted by criminals. Therefore coastal seaside towns with a high proportion of elderly residents do have higher than national average scamming activity.

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SquirrelsHolt I would like to ask, how can I create secure passwords that I can remember for several accounts. I do have a problem with remembering which password for which account. Thank you for any help you can give.

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Remembering passwords is difficult for all of us, including me! The way I manage is that I have a secure password app on my phone within which I put all of my passwords for my various accounts. These apps are readily available. Some have a small charge but I find them very useful. I hope this helps. Smartphones and tablets are more secure than using your laptop via wifi. The reason for this is that smartphones and tablets have something called end-to-end encryption which makes them very difficult to hack in to, whereas laptops are much more vulnerable. Note: I only do my banking via my phone or tablet app, never on a laptop.

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Thank you for your reply Keithbrown - interesting to also read other members questions and your replies. Invaluable information, so my friend and I will both be making security adjustments today.

Thank you for taking time out,to give your expert advice.

Kind regards.

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Jacki66 I also have another question. My husband has a Nationwide account and credit card. He is severely mentally impaired and physically disabled. Nationwide offered him a credit card which he tried to use but he must have got the pin incorrect so they blocked a transaction at Tesco opticians. We called them and they said he had to get into the nearest Nationwide branch where the pin would be sorted out. He did this, on foot, to our local Ringwood branch. Once again, when trying to use it embarrassingly the pin was wrong again! Surely a bank is under obligation to assist with people in this category and at least phone them when they are trying to transact to help them over the phone? At the very least I would think. When we complained to Nationwide again, I took over and let them have it. They then DENIED HE EVER CAME TO THE BRANCH TO SORT THE PIN OUT and said they checked their cctv. However, we did not supply them with the exact date that he went into branch so they had no proof whatsoever that he did not go in. He had been in and they had allegedly sorted the pin out. I am fed up with this and have dealt with Jon Cuthill of the BBC who is trying to get a campaign up for forcing financial institutes to pay more due diligence to customers in this category. It is appalling and extremely distressing when we try and use their credit card now.

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Hi Jacki66 thank you for your second question. You are correct, all banks and building societies have a duty of care to protect vulnerable customers. However clearly they need to be informed if a customer is vulnerable, otherwise they will not be able to put in appropriate measures to protect the customer.

One problem you could experience is that if your husband is so severely mentally impaired that his mental capacity is questioned, the bank or building society might believe that he does not have appropriate capacity to run his own bank account and they will therefore close it.

Once again, this goes back to the critical importance of having a Lasting Power of Attorney so you can manage the financial affairs of a loved one if they are unable to do so themselves due to a lack of mental capacity.

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Anonymous question - What are the most common types of scam?

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There are a huge array of different forms of scams. In our resesearch we tend to categorise them in the following categories:

-Doorstep crime

-Telephone crime

-Mail crime

-Cyber/internet crime

-Financial transaction crime e.g. pension/investment fraud

Within these categories there is a huge array of different types of scam crime. Indeed I suspect as I type new ones are being created. It really is close one, open one so be aware!

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Hi Keith, thanks for all these answers...they have been really interesting and eye opening so far. I know the hour is coming to an end soon but what would be your top 3 tips to people protect themselves to scams?

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Hi HBrand1 Difficult question to answer, simply because there are so many different forms of scams, I could almost give you the top three tips for each type of scam but then there would be an awful lot of tips!

So in general, these would be my top three tips:

1) Remember, scammers are not fools. They are very sophisticated and spend large sums of money targeting you as they can make significant sums of money out of this activity. So always be aware.

2) The age old saying "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is". Therefore do not be hoodwinked or conned into a position where you feel you are buying goods or services at prices which are below the norm. It will be a scam.

3) Talk to your nearest and dearest, especially if you have been scammed. It is not that you were a fool or unwise, you have simply been conned by a very clever scammer so don't feel embarrassed. Your story might help others and certainly the more you share with your loved ones, the more together you will be able to protect yourselves.

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Anonymous question - Who should I talk to if I'm worried about a scam?

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Great question. Always talk to somebody! A friend, a relative, a neighbour. The best place to report a scam is your local Trading Standards team, indeed I would urge everybody to report every scam to their local Trading Standards team. Why? Because we know there is significant underreporting of this crime and the more the crime is reported the better the picture is that we have of this type of crime and the more we can do to prevent it.

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Thanks so much Keithbrown. This was really interesting and I hope people found it useful!

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How is it that so many people seem to get attempted telephone scams shortly after moving or receiving larger sums of money around bank accounts? This has happened to five or six of my friends in recent times. Is it just coincidence or is it something more sinister. Interestingly I have absolutely no money to move around and I've never received a scam call.

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