We have once again been receiving reports of cold-callers falsely claiming to be from the Citizens Advice Bureau in order to con people out of their personal details and money. Over the last few weeks Citizens Advice Scotland has had multiple reports of cold-callers offering debt advice on unsecured loans or claiming people are due a refund from their credit card companies in order to access their bank details.
Please be advised that:
- Citizens Advice Scotland or our sister organisation in England and Wales, Citizens Advice, would never cold call any members of the public and that these calls are a scam.
- Anyone having debt problems can get free, confidential advice by visiting their local bureau, accessing our self-help website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/, or contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
The Scottish Government has convened a Nuisance Calls Commission with the aim of finding practical solutions to the problem of unwanted calls. As part of this the Community Action Team at Citizens Advice Scotland will be running a Nuisance Calls campaign in partnership with Which? this September.
What to do if you’ve been scammed:
- SPREAD THE WORD. Tell people you know, mention it on Twitter etc, so other people can avoid the same scam.
- Report it! Don't let them scam others. You can report it and also get advice through our self-help advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/ or the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06. The Citizens Advice Consumer Service can put a report through to Trading Standards and they might be able to help targeted individuals by installing a “call blocker”.
- Alternatively these calls can be reported to Action Fraud. You will be given a crime number but no further correspondence from the police after this. Action Fraud collate the data to spot anything that gives away who the scammers are (although there are thousands of these scam calls every day and they go to great lengths to keep their identity hidden.)
Signs of a scam
- The call, letter, e-mail or text has come out of the blue.
- They are asking you to send money in advance.
- They are saying you have to respond quickly, so you don't get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide.
- They are telling you to keep it a secret.
- They seem to be offering you something for nothing. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
How to protect yourself better:
- Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
- In particular, NEVER give your financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to businesses that should already hold your details.
- Shred anything with your personal or bank details on it – don't just throw it away.
- If in doubt, don't reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
- If you are interested, resist pressure to make a decision straight away. Get advice from friends, neighbours etc first. If the seller discourages this, that's a sure sign they have something to hide.
- Always read the small print of any deal before you sign. If in doubt about anything, ask for clarification – and get advice from a third party.
- Never send money to someone you don't know.