Ahead of the new year we spoke to Trading Standards and other leading fraud experts to identify the up-and-coming scams for 2016.
Perpetrators of scams are criminals who are very convincing in their fraudulent tactics.
At the start of 2015, a Which? survey found that 54% of respondents had been personally exposed to a scam in the past two years, or have a friend or family member who had.
We’ve worked together with leading fraud experts to tell you what you need to know to avoid being caught by five scams – all identified as growing threats in 2016.
We’ve also produced a number of guides and advice on the latest scams.
1. Criminals selling dodgy products on social media
According to the latest Intellectual Property Crime Report, social media has overtaken auction sites as the criminal ‘channel-of-choice’ for counterfeit and piracy activity.
The growing concern is that the fraudulent sale of high-cost items, such as electrical goods and clocked cars, could potentially put lives at risk.
The old adage that ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ always applies.
2. Telephone Preference Service scams
Trading Standards has seen a rise in cold-callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service.
They then charge you for registration or useless call-blocking devices.
The Telephone Preference Service is the only service that all organisations are legally required to screen calls against – and it’s free.
3. Loan sharks
The increasing threat of loan sharks has been identified by the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team, which it says stems from the combined effect of the introduction of the Universal Credit single benefit and the cap on payday loans.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with debt, our Dealing with Debt guide contains straightforward tips, plus contact details for free debt advice.
4. Investment scams
Criminals have been quick to seize the opportunity to take advantage changes to pensions that came into effect in April 2015, and reports of scams are increasing.
Phrases such as ‘one-off investment’ and ‘free pension review’, as well as promises to access to your pension before 55, should ring alarm bells.
They’ll often approach you out of the blue – either by phone, text or in person. Don’t be tempted, as they’re lying.
5. Scam ticket sites
Unauthorised sellers selling counterfeit or duplicate tickets for concerts, festivals and sports events are a growing problem that was highlighted in the run up to Rugby World Cup 2015.
When dealing with ticket seller you’re not sure of, check websites that aggregate reviews such as Trustpilot or Feefo.
But look out for repetition among the reviews – this is a red flag that reviews aren’t authentic. As is any company that doesn’t have a regularly updated Facebook and Twitter presence.