I have been extremely concerned to see a rising number of my constituents getting in touch with me about scams they have seen and been victims to. Fraudsters have been cunning in how they have quickly adapted to the pandemic, to convince many people into parting with their money. We’ve seen scams advertising face masks and medical equipment at high prices, emails or texts pretending to be from the government, emails offering life insurance against coronavirus and people knocking at doors, asking for money for charity.
This is unacceptable but I am determined to play my part in limiting fraud in our community. That is why I have included a leaflet accompanying this letter which you can place in your front window or door. Hopefully, this will make those who approach you in person think twice about doing so as well as offering you some advice about how to handle the situation.
However, it is also online scams and phone calls that are catching people out. It can often be hard to tell if something is a scam - it’s why they work so well. I have also attached some information about how to tell if an email or phone call is fraudulent.
If you have been victim to a scam, please make sure that you report it as detailed overleaf, or if you need any further help, please contact me directly on 0121 398 8426 and I would be happy to assist.
Whether it’s a phone call, email or text, there are often common tells you can use to decide if it’s a scam or the real deal. Below are ten helpful tips that could help you avoid being scammed.
1) Are you being asked to share personal details? Scammers will often ask for personal information and data that they can use to steal your money or identity. Never share your personal details with anyone if they can't confirm who they say they are.
2) Is what they are offering realistic or is it simply too good to be true? If they are offering unbelievable value where you will receive a lot, for very little input, it is likely that it isn’t authentic and could be a scam.
3) Have you been contacted in an unprompted way? If someone is cold calling, emailing or sending you a text message when you haven’t requested the contact, there is a good chance that it is fraudulent. A reputable organisation is unlikely to contact you out of the blue or request sensitive information unsolicited.
4) Take a look at their contact details. Are they asking you to contact a PO Box, premium rate phone number or mobile number? If it’s a dubious email, you can check the email address of the person who sent it. While the name may be the same as a legitimate business, it is likely that the email address won’t be.
5) Are there spelling or grammar mistakes? Reputable companies or organisations will rarely have spelling mistakes in their correspondence and so if the answer is yes, you should be suspicious.
6) Is the organisation trying to rush you into a decision? If they are putting pressure on you and trying to hurry a decision, it is more likely that the email or phone call is fraudulent. If you're unsure about the identity of the caller, hang up and contact the company directly.
How to Report a Scam
If the scammer is still in your area or you have transferred any money to a scammer in the last 24 hours, you should contact the police immediately by calling 101.
Alternatively, the Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. If you need help and advice, they are a good starting point and will refer your case to the appropriate Birmingham Trading Standards service if it needs to be investigated. You can contact them on 0808 223 1133, email email@example.com or complete the online form at: