LISTEN: Cathy Marshall explains the threat scammers have on unsuspecting victims
Fraud and deception are at the heart of the warning the Pitlochry Neighborhood Watch are hearing from Highland Perthshire and more broadly across Scotland.
Fake emails pose as friends and family who ‘need support’ of one kind or other and online retailers are luring in optimistic seasonal buyers with unrealistically low prices.
Cathy Marshall from the Pitlochry Neighborhood Watch said: “Most of us can spot a scam, or so we think, but there really is no room for complacency.
“Scammers can call, or email , unexpectedly, they can catch us off guard, they can be very plausible. They can pretend to be from an official body such as a ban or HMRC ect. They can fake phone numbers and email addresses so it looks like they really are from our bank or HMRC ect.
“They can hack into personal email accounts and Facebook accounts, so it can appear be someone we already know, but the message can seem a bit out of character so watch out.
“Usually the scammers try to grab our attention by saying things like ‘you owe money, and have to pay now’, ‘there’s a problem with our direct debt card and we need to verify account details’, ‘there’s a virus on your computer so we need to sort them out, so we need you to switch on your computer and follow the instructions’ or perhaps ‘you’ve won a prize’ but you need to pay an administrative fee first.”
There’s an extensive list of some of the common practises which scammers use to try and dupe people into giving over valuable information to exploit them.
And in some cases, even just ask for straight up cash and never deliver on their promise in return.
These scammers use their ability to pose as other people who their victim might know and try to take advantage of that position for their own gain.
Looking towards other retail scams which have been reported, Cathy Marshall said: “At this time of year, some folk may be turning to online retailers for their Christmas shopping.
“Here too there is a danger of accessing fake websites and fake goods. If you think you’ve spotted a festive bargain on an online market place, at a much lower price than usual for the brand, think twice, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
But support is out there for people who are the victims of these scams, Cathy Marshall explains: “For information on the latest online scams and how to avoid them, go to www.tssscot.co.uk.”