Crooks and conmen use any method they can to steal from unsuspecting members of the public. But there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Last week a homeowner in Stenhousemuir was cold-called by someone claiming to be from Scottish Water and attempting to gain access to the property. Luckily the woman was cautious and refused him entry. Scottish Water later confirmed they had nobody from the company working in the area at the time.
And in Denny, also last week, a man claiming to be collecting payments for a window cleaning service conned residents into paying him when he was not connected to any firm.
A spokesperson for Scottish Water urged all householders to follow the three C’s rule to avoid being ripped off.
Card – ask to see their identification card before letting them over the threshold. Keep your door on the latch until you see their ID.
Check – make sure the card is genuine and the caller looks like their photo.
Call – phone the business to confirm the visitor is who are who they say they are. Get the number from your phone book or other source, not the card they give you.
But it isn’t only on the doorstep that you have to look out for people trying to scam you out of cash. E-mails, post and telephones are all being used as ways of getting money from unsuspecting victims.
One Falkirk pensioner was conned out of £20,000 during the summer through a sophisticated phone scam.
He thought he was talking to Royal Bank of Scotland staff calling his home. He was told there had been unusual activity on his account and was asked to transfer funds into a new safe account. Of course, this one belonging to the criminals.
Banks regularly remind customers their staff will never ask for passwords or personal information. They say if you have any concerns, hang up and call the phone number on the back of your bank card.
Royal Mail has just announced a new initiative to tackle fraud. Working with Trading Standards, the service will not deliver mail they believe may be from con artists by cancelling their accounts. They are also training their postmen and women to be more vigilant for scams such as fake lottery schemes, false inheritance claims and dodgy companies taking money but not delivering services or goods.
Royal Mail security director Tony Marsh said: “We understand the upset and anxiety scam mail can cause, in particular to vulnerable people and their families. This initiative with the Trading Standards Scam Team will help us to identify scam mail and stop it entering our postal network.”
A Falkirk Council spokesman warned people not to employ anyone who turns up at your door.
He added: “If you want work carried out, always get three written quotes and, wherever possible, testimonials from others.
“Do not feel intimidated – anyone genuine will leave when asked – if they do not, contact the police. You have certain cancellation rights on purchases. Ensure these are made clear to you at the time.
“If you do go ahead with the work, check payment information and be sure not to reveal any personal financial information.
‘‘You may also want to check if the business is accredited to a professional/trade/industry body. And lastly, if a deal appears too good to be true, on many occasions it probably is – don’t be fooled.”