Fraud and forgery
Fraud and forgery come in many forms including:
- Doorstep selling
- Identity theft
- Property fraud
- False advertising
- Online selling
The final aim of any of those activities is usually to defraud the victim of their money or to gain personal information that is then used to commit other crimes.
Perpetrators may sell goods that don’t really exist, impersonate someone else and use their details to defraud others or to take out credit in their name, pressure victims into spending money when they are caught off guard or falsify documents for gain. Fraudsters also often trick victims into revealing personal information and passwords over the phone or online.
This list of examples is by no means exhaustive. You may have had a very different experience to those listed above. However, all fraud and forgery cases have one thing in common, they can leave you upset and often with huge financial losses and in the difficult situation of having to try to recover those losses if at all possible.
Victims often blame themselves for having fallen for the deceit and feel too embarrassed to seek help. You have to remember, you are never to blame.
We cannot financially compensate you if you have been defrauded, but we can support you in dealing with other organisations like insurance companies or banks and put you in touch with specialist organisations like Action Fraud.
We can work with you to support you in dealing with your feelings, learning how to keep yourself safe in future and getting your life back on track.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t reported the crime to the police but if you would like to, we can help with that, too.
Whether you have been affected recently or in the past, we are here – to talk, to listen, for advice, for help.
All of our services are free and confidential, please get in touch.
Lancashire Constabulary have published practical tips to help you protect yourself from fraudsters. The following information has been taken from the Constabulary website:
A bogus caller may call uninvited to your home with the intention of tricking you into letting them in
by saying they are from the water board or energy provider so that they can steal from you.
A rogue trader may advise you that you need work doing on your roof, driveway or other part of your home. They may even say that your property is dangerous and that you will be responsible if someone is injured. The work they do can be poor standard and prices are often inflated.
Older adults in particular are at risk but anyone can become a victim.
STOP – Before you answer the door, stop and think if you are expecting anyone. Make sure your back door and any other doors leading outside are locked before you go to the front door. If you feel uncomfortable don’t answer the door and lock it.
CHAIN – Open the door with the chain or door bar in place. These act as a barrier when talking to unexpected callers. Talk through a window if you can.
CHECK – Always ask for ID. Genuine callers will always have identification. If you are still uncertain, phone the organisation and confirm the person’s identity. Genuine callers will be happy to wait.
If you are not expecting a visitor, do not know who is at the door, have any doubt or feel uncomfortable DO NOT open the door.
Some companies also have password protection schemes where they will supply you with a password that only you and the caller will know.
Neighbourhood Watch schemes are proven to reduce burglary and deter bogus callers. Sign up to In The Know our free local messaging scheme or to join your local watch scheme contact your local Watch Liaison Officer.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud, a national agency who record and investigate reports of all types of fraud.
How to protect yourself from doorstep crime:
- Never agree to have any work done as a result of a cold call. Don’t make snap decisions and don’t be pressurised into having the job done.
- If you think work needs doing to your home, get written quotes from two or three traders, detailing the work to be done and a final price. Never rely solely on a mobile phone number.
- Ask friends and relatives to recommend a reputable business.
- Only pay in full once the work is completed to your satisfaction. You may be asked to pay money up front for trader’s materials, ensure this only covers the cost of those materials never pay the full amount in advance.
- Check the identity of all callers to your home. Ask for photo identification even if the caller claims to be from a utility company, the police or local authority. Check it carefully with the telephone number in the phone book, not the number on the ID. All genuine officials are issued with identification that they carry with them. If you are worried, do not answer the door.
- Do not keep large amounts of money in your home no matter how well you think it is hidden. Volunteering to pay large amounts in cash may be an indication that you may have more cash on the premises.
Help Direct – Safe Trader Scheme in partnership with Lancashire County Council Trading Standards
The Safe Trader Scheme aims to help people in Lancashire find traders for property repairs, home improvements and domestic services such as cleaning and laundry. It is funded by Lancashire County Council as part of the Help Direct Service.
Home Improvement Agencies in Lancashire provide impartial help, advice and support on all aspects of home improvements, adaptations, repairs and maintenance works to your homes.
Most of us use the internet without any problems. However anyone can fall prey to cyber criminals if they do not take basic security precautions when online. Follow this advice to help protect yourself and your family online:
- If you get an email from an unknown source, do not open it and do not click on any attachments or links.
- No bank or card issuer will contact you by email and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, then delete it.
- Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.
- Never follow the messages from anti-virus software you encounter whilst on the internet. Only follow the anti-virus instructions from the software you have installed on your computer.
- Ensure that all your software, especially your operating system (eg. Windows or OS), is up to date.
Reporting online fraud
If you suspect you may have been a victim of fraud or online crime contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
The Action Fraud website has lots of information and free resources about different types of frauds and scams and how to protect yourself and get safe online.
Mobile Phone Fraud
There are a variety of mobile phone frauds and scams that either persuade you to buy phone-related products or services that turn out to be substandard or non-existent; or to make phone calls or texts to premium services by accident; or to unknowingly sign up to expensive subscription services.
- Set up a password or passcode on your phone or tablet and keep it locked when you’re not using it.
- If your phone is stolen, tell your provider straight away and change any passwords for online accounts you access through your phone as soon as possible.
- If you visit a website through your mobile or tablet and the URL looks suspicious, close it down straight away
- Don’t respond to unknown numbers.
- If you sell your phone/tablet or give it away, make sure you complete a factory reset to clear all your content from it – you’ll find out how in your user guide.
- Activate the tracking device on your smart phone or install a reputable track my phone app.
Passwords are your first defence against hackers. Poor passwords will leave you and your business vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and extortion.
We keep so much important information, photography and correspondence online, it’s vital that you make your passwords as strong as possible, incorporating numbers, symbols, upper and lower case letters.
Shopping and selling online
Here are some tips to keeping safe while shopping or selling online:
- Always use secure sites – look out for the padlock symbol.
- Always keep backups and printouts of all online documentation.
- Never disclose your card or bank details as proof of identity or age.
- Remember if an offer seems too good to be true it most probably is.
- Try not to use money transfers to pay for items bought on-line and if possible use a dedicated credit/debit card for all your on-line transactions.
- Remember if you have paid by credit card you have more protection.
Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information, for example usernames, passwords and credit card details or steal money by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication such as email, pop-up message, phone call or text message.
More than 68 percent of people who reported a phishing scam said that they received it in the form of an email, this compares to 12.5 percent of people who said they were contacted by phone, 8.9 percent of people who said that they received a text message and the rest saying they were contacted in another way.
Deputy Head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt said: “In order to avoid becoming a victim we urge people to be cautious when opening emails and ask them to follow our protection advice in order to make it as difficult as possible for fraudsters who are simply casting around for their next victim”.
Behaviours that put you at risk:
- Opening attachments, or clinking on links within emails that are unsolicited or unexpected.
- Responding to emails that ask for your personal or financial details.
- Logging in to a webpage that you have arrived at via a link in an email.
How to protect yourself:
- Don’t open attachments or click on the links within any unsolicited emails you receive, and never respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial details. Remember, you can hover over a link to see where it will really take you.
- An email address can be spoofed, so even if the email appears to be from a person or a company you know of, but the message is unexpected or unusual then contact the sender directly via another method to confirm that they sent you the email.
- If you receive an email which asks you to login to an online account, for example due to suspicious activity on your account, instead of clicking on the link provided in the email, go directly to the website yourself.