When Ulsterbank asked if I would share their helpful hints and tips this festive season to help everyone stay safe, secure and to help avoid being the victim of a scam, I knew due to my own experience it’s such an important message to share and discuss.
Unfortunately, from my days in retail I have witnessed too many individuals targeted which included vulnerable people and the elderly, but it could have been anyone. I believe that it is not only in our best interest to be aware and protect ourselves from being victims of fraud or scams, but it is also our responsibility to share the message to help to protect others too.
One example of this was when I witnessed individuals buying huge amounts of iTunes vouchers in the supermarket because they had received a fraudulent call from someone they believed to have been from HMRC. They were telling them they owed money due to underpaid tax and they should pay the remainder in iTunes vouchers or be prosecuted. I know written on paper that one sounds pretty obvious but unfortunately when people are put under pressure, they are more worried about facing the alternative ‘consequences’ rather than considering where the request has come from and whether it was genuine.
I was then able to brief my team on this sort of scam, and thankfully due to amazing people working at the checkouts who heard or noticed anyone trying to buy large quantities of the vouchers, they stopped them and gently questioned why and explained the scam just in case. In my time in that store, two people were helped due to a team that were very aware.
And that’s what it’s about – being more Scam-Aware. So, at this festive time when people are rushing, busy and perhaps spending a little more money than usual, Ulster Bank is working with ScamWise NI, the PSNI and Take Five to Stop Fraud, in a bid to help keep our finances and sensitive information safe and secure. It doesn’t matter who you bank with, Ulster Bank want everyone to be aware and keep themselves protected.
Personally, I have to be very aware to keep myself and my family’s information safe and secure, as with being online so much; online shopping, on social media and doing most of my work through email, I have to be very aware of potential scams.
I never click through on links of unexpected emails or share passwords or information over the phone or online, and I am very conscious of who I am sharing my address with. I’ve even set up a PO address to help protect it which is a great idea and worth the expense if sharing your address for business purposes.
Fraudsters can call you and even have some of your information such as Name, DOB and address to make them seem genuine, they can even do ‘warm up calls’ where they initially ask for no information to make the second call seem reputable. They can pretend they are calling from a call centre and can pretend to be any kind of official company – HMRC, a bank, the police or a utility provider such as a broadband company.
Ulster Bank, with the help of Financial Fraud Action U.K. are sharing a ‘take 5’ on ways you can stop and access information to check if the calls or contact is genuine to help keep you safe and secure. You can read more aboutUlster Bank’s Fraud & Scams Guide here.
Please also communicate this message to those who you believe may not see or hear it, not everyone reads blogs or sees advertisements. As well as keeping ourselves safe and secure, we can help protect others too from being a victim of fraudsters.
This post is sponsored by Ulster Bank Northern Irelandbut I truly believe in this message; I have experienced others being targeted first-hand and hope that no one else falls victim to these scams. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
Have you or someone you know ever been a victim of a scam? Please leave a comment to share with others and raise awareness of the different ways people may be targeted.