Scams have always been a problem, for example fake lotteries, computer scams, rogue traders, identity theft and bogus callers.
A very recent example in Letchworth Garden CIty, reported by a resident of First Garden Cities Homes, was a fake phone call from a supposed loft insulation company.
The caller offered our resident free loft insulation but hung up as soon as she advised it was a housing association property. Thankfully, this case didn't end badly, but these fraudsters can sound incredibly genuine, and are very skilful at getting people to share their personal information, or even worse their bank details.
Even more concerning is that following Covid-19 there is a new crime wave exploiting people's financial worries and fear of the pandemic.
Stop. Challenge. Protect.
This is the motto of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, backed by UK Finance and HM Government to raise awareness of the problem which costs the public millions of pounds every year.
It points out that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police and spend hours researching their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.
They highlight some of the main ways that scammers are currently trying to exploit the anxiety caused by the pandemic. They also advise that telephone scams are likely to increase further as lockdown eases and illegitimate call centres resume business.
As well as the Take Five campaign, there are a number of useful online resources which aim to empower people with information.
Remember: genuine organisations would never ask for personal information or rush you to make a decision. Stop and think: it could protect you and your money.