Ask An Expert: Scams
January saw MSE Forum's third Ask An Expert event, this time themed on scams. Our resident scams guru MSE Katie took on MSE Forumites' questions, including how to tell if a crypto platform is legit and what to do to get your money back if you've been scammed.
According to the National Crime Agency, fraud is now the crime you're most likely to fall victim to. The good news is that there's a whole arsenal of things you can do to protect yourself from falling foul. MSE's in-house scams expert Katie has dedicated her time to combatting scams by watching out for new methods, dispensing tips to MoneySavers and pushing regulators and politicians to better protect consumers from scam ads.
The Ask An Expert: Scams event gave MSE Forumites the chance to put their questions to Katie.
Thank you to everyone who posted.
Sorry folks, it's not possible to post a new question for MSE Katie now the event's over, but you can always post scam-related queries on the MSE Forum's Consumer rights or Praise, vent & warnings boards, or any other more relevant board, where our knowledgeable users are on hand to lend support. Not a member yet? Here's how to register for the MSE Forum.
Below are a few of the answers. Keep in mind these were correct as of January 2023 and won't be updated.
IMPORTANT: MoneySavingExpert.com doesn't give personal financial or legal advice. While the experts are able to explain things in general terms and point to extra help, you should always do your own research when applying their knowledge to your specific circumstances.
So there are some really easy rules of thumb that you can remember to try and protect yourself from being scammed. First of all, my golden rule: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Now that might be because it's cheaper than you've seen it elsewhere, or it's seemingly available when it isn't elsewhere. So these kinds of things are little signs to you that you might not be looking at a legitimate website or retailer.
Secondly, I'd always take another look at exactly where you're trying to buy from. That might be looking at the email sender, or looking at the website address bar a little bit more carefully. Scammers are really sophisticated. They can spoof real retailers and they can be very convincing. By looking at these things, you can get a better picture of whether it's not quite what it appears to be. Lastly, only scammers use really, really aggressive rush tactics to get you to buy things without really thinking about it. So if you're set deadlines or given a countdown clock or told that you need to hurry because there's only some of them left, then you might be wanting to think, 'is this a scam or is this real?' It is quite difficult because real retailers also try and get you to purchase quite quickly. But you will notice that scammers are a little bit more aggressive about it.
And finally, if you're really in doubt, but you do want to give it a go, make sure you protect yourself. If you use a credit card and it costs over £100 and under £30,000, you'll benefit from extra legal protection called Section 75. And you can find out more about that on the website.
~ MSE Katie
If you think you've been scammed or you're in the midst of being scammed, the most important thing you need to do, immediately, is end all contact with the scammer. End the conversation online, hang up the phone - whatever it is and however you're talking to them, don't give them any more to go on.
Secondly, go straight to your bank using a known phone number. That could be a phone number on your card for the fraud line, or it could be on your bank statement, but never use numbers that the person you've been speaking to has given you.
To make it easier, you can also dial 159, which can put you straight through to a group of major banks who are part of this scheme, and get you straight to the fraud department.
Lastly, you might want to report the scam to Action Fraud. Now, Action Fraud doesn't deal with every case individually so you need to know you can't always expect to hear back from them, or for them to pick up your case. But what it does do is help put the pieces together to investigate patterns of scams, and you might be able to help somebody else avoid this scam entirely.
~ MSE Katie
REMINDER: These answers were filmed in January 2023 and may not be fully accurate at the time of viewing.
There are two main schemes that you can try to get your money back.
The first is really strong legal protection called Section 75 - that's Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which makes your card provider jointly liable if something goes wrong. Now, in practice, you need to have paid for something on a credit card only, that costs between £100 and £30,000.
Now, if you try to use Section 75, you've got really strong rights and your card provider can try and reimburse you if something has gone wrong. If you can't use that, say, for example, if it costs under £100 or you used a debit card or you used a charge card, then you can try something called chargeback.
Chargeback is where your bank that issued the payment tries to claw back the money from the other side, the bank that received the payment. However, it's a voluntary scheme, so it's not a stronger protection. So if you're ever not sure, it's always best to try and pay for something on a credit card to benefit from that extra Section 75 protection.
~ MSE Katie
Visit the MSE Forum to see the rest
Other questions include:
- My Boots Advantage card points were stolen. Can I get them back?
- How can I be sure a call or text is from my bank?
- How do I report WhatsApp messages pretending to be from family members?
- Why are there so many scams and not enough being done about them?
- How can I tell if a company dealing with PPI claims is legitimate?
- How can I tell if a cryptocurrency platform is legitimate?
- I've been scammed through Facebook Marketplace. What should I do?
- Am I protected if I buy with a credit card?
Over to you, reader
We've already hosted events on Energy and on Deals & Shopping.
What other topics would you like to see explored in our next Ask An Expert events? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.