There are several scams doing the rounds, with scammers claiming to be reaching out from official bodies such as the NHS. These types of scams were particularly common during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with scammers contacting people with links to order a range of things, including testing kits and personal protective equipment.
These contacts often asked for payment information, which the official NHS would never do. Recent news about winter covid-19 boosters and monkeypox vaccinations will undoubtedly mean that scammers try to reach out to people again in attempts to gather information.
The important thing to remember is that you will never be asked to supply personal financial information by the NHS. Additionally, scammers may use other information gathered to perpetrate further scams.
So, How can we project ourselves?
There are several things that we can do to protect ourselves when it comes to scams:
- Avoid sharing personal information – By avoiding sharing personal information with unsolicited callers, we can ensure that we limit the information scammers hold on us. ‘Phishing’ is when a scammer gathers small pieces of information from a target to carry out further scams. They use the information to seem more legitimate when they contact us in the future and have also been known to share or sell information on to other scammers. This can be used to access personal accounts, and potentially steal money.
- Avoid clicking on links – We can also reduce the chances of being scammed by avoiding clicking links in any text messages or emails we receive. These links can take us to cloned websites, that look like official sites for recognisable organisations, but can also be part of ‘malware’ scams. This is when a piece of malicious software is downloaded onto computing devices, allowing the scammer to access personal information, or bank accounts.
What other support is available when dealing with scams?
- Support from telecoms providers – Telecoms providers are doing more to help their customers who are receiving nuisance calls, with many offering call features included in the cost of existing packages. It is worth reaching out to them and explaining your situation, as the features they offer can help to screen, block, and reject unwanted calls.
- The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – The Telephone Preference Service offer a free opt-out service, allowing people to record their preferences on the official register to not receive unsolicited or marketing calls. You can find out more about them by visiting www.tpsonline.org.uk or by calling their registration line on 0345 070 0707.
If you receive a call asking you to press buttons to be connected or speak with an adviser, it is advisable to avoid selecting any options, as this could transfer you to a premium rate number and charge you for the call.
Advice Direct Scotland’s Scottish #ScamWatch Fortnight
Scottish ScamWatch fortnight is in full swing, sharing information on different types of scams, and how we can avoid and report them to stop others being caught out. You can follow the campaign by following #ScamWatch or by visiting the official #ScamWatch page.
Advice Direct Scotland run Scotland’s national consumer advice service, consumeradvice.scot who provide advice and information on a range of consumer-related matters, including scams. You can contact them on 0808 164 6000, (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or alternatively through www.consumeradvice.scot, where you can also find out more about scams in their Knowledge Centre.
You can also report suspected scams and suspicious activity using the Quick Reporting Tool at scamwatch.scot.