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No one likes to feel that they have wasted or, even worse, been conned out of their money. Unfortunately, there are plenty of situations in which individuals acting in good faith can find that they have come off worse from a transaction.
We use the word ‘scam’ to indicate a dishonest or fraudulent scheme designed to cheat the purchaser. This can apply to buying products or services, making investments or becoming involved in apparently failsafe business propositions. You can avoid a lot of scams and bad purchases if you know what to look for.
A scam can mean anything from criminal fraud to sharp, but legal, selling practices. The question ‘is it legal?’ is perhaps less relevant than ‘can I get my money back?’. Whether the scheme was legal or illegal, the answer is likely to be no. Even well-known companies may direct you to the small print if you later query your position. Other, less reputable sellers may simply disappear. Depending on the circumstances, police or Trading Standards are more likely to try to prevent future scams than recover money that has been lost.
If an exciting offer seems too good to be true, think about the following warning signs and ask yourself if it is a scam:
Always stop, think and be sceptical before signing anything or handing over any money.
If the worst happens and you are a victim of a scam, or if you want advice on how to protect yourself, contact Action Fraud Tel: 0300 123 2040 (national rate) for help (See 'Useful website').
Download free information guides from Age Scotland partner Age UK.
Avoiding scams (495 KB)
Staying safe (526 KB)
Managing your money (PDF 3 MB)
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Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. They offer advice if you’ve been the victim of a scam or identity theft.
Consumer Direct is a free telephone and online information service funded by the Office of Fair Trading.
An information guide from Age Scotland partner Age UK offering practical advice on home safety.
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