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Get Safe Online
Get Safe Online recently launched the Rough Guide to Online Safety. This is a joint initiative between the Government, law enforcement, leading businesses and the public sector. The aim is to provide computer users and small businesses with free, independent, user-friendly advice that will allow them to use the internet confidently, safely and securely.
40% of computer users have experienced virus attacks and it is estimated that over a thousand new computer viruses emerge every month. With significant potential for online viruses, scams and privacy violations, the - Rough Guide to Online Safety - provides a snapshot of digital security and smart surfing for every scenario.
The objective is to encourage everyone to take some time out of their week to learn more about internet safety and to make sure that their computer is properly protected.
The risks are serious but prevention is easy. A few hours is all you need. It's a small price to pay compared to the huge hassle of dealing with viruses, identity theft and online fraud.
You can get further online advice from Get Safe Free Online expert advice.
Bank mandate fraud
Both businesses and individuals are at risk of bank mandate fraud. Find out what it is and how to protect yourself and your business against it (pdf 9.26MB).
Scams Fridge List
Find out more about warnings and reminders about not falling for scams and doorstep cold callers in the scams fridge list (pdf 20.1KB). Print it out, pin it up or attach it to the door of your fridge so you never forget how to deal with scammers, rogue traders and criminals.
To get help and advice about scam mail head to the Think Jessica website.
Report Scams to Action Fraud
Aberdeenshire consumers and businesses alike are encouraged to report any scams to Action Fraud as new and evolving scams continue to target Aberdeenshire residents. Action Fraud provides a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime and is run by the National Fraud Authority - the government agency that co-ordinates the fight against fraud in the UK. If you think that you have been the victim of a scam then you can report it to Action Fraud either via their online fraud reporting service or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Visit Action Fraud Police website for useful advice and information on the latest scams and how to prevent yourself from becoming a target.
Scam doorstep selling
There are traders who call at your door who are honest and genuine. However there are others who may look to take advantage of you by using clever and persuasive tactics.
They range from high pressure salesmen through to rogue traders, confidence tricksters and distraction burglars, and may provide unfair contracts, overpriced or substandard home improvements, phone consumer surveys and bogus charity collections.
Under legislation recently introduced it is now an offence for a salesman to fail to leave your property when asked, and such instances can be reported to us for further investigation.
- Present personal identification and identify who they represent.
- Make it clear from the outset if they are selling something.
- Provide written information on cooling off periods and cancellation rights.
- Avoid using pressure to sell goods or services.
- Not expect an on-the-spot decision.
- Leave as soon as they are asked to do so.
How to protect yourself
- Do you feel safe letting the caller into your home?
- Do you feel under any pressure?
- Do you feel your emotions are being used or manipulated (e.g. subjected to scare stories or exaggerated claims)?
- Do you know the full costs (e.g. including estimates, delivery and installation) of the transaction?
- Have you compared prices for the same goods or services?
- Do you understand your rights if you sign a contract?
- Do you know the arrangements for after-sales servicing (e.g. guarantees or warranties)?
- Could you contact the trader again if you have problems at a later date?
- Has the caller identified themselves and their company to your satisfaction? (Make a note of these details and do not feel pressured into making a snap decision. You can check the details in a telephone directory or speak to your local trading standards service if in doubt.)
- Has the caller engaged your interest by questionable means (e.g. claiming to be conducting a survey or representing a charity)
- Has the caller offered you a "once only" price for agreeing to the transaction on the spot?
- Is the caller offering something you really want or need?
- Has the caller aroused any suspicions about themselves, their methods or their motives?
- Decide. Only if you are satisfied that the transaction is entirely acceptable and that the decision is entirely your own should you agree to make a purchase.
- Say you do not buy goods or services at the door.
- Say you want more time to think about it.
- Say you want to compare prices by getting other quotes.
- Say you have to discuss it with someone else (e.g. your partner or son/daughter).
Scam doorstep collections of second hand clothing
Doorstep collections of second hand clothing is an increasingly popular activity but if you want to make sure that your donations go to an organisation or charity that you want to support then take a little time and be careful about who you donate to.
It has been estimated that charities lose between 2.5 million and 3 million a year because of theft and people mistakenly giving clothing to commercial companies in the belief they are charities.
Many leaflets are put through letter boxes however only a few will be from genuine charities.
We advise consumers to read the leaflet carefully and don't be tempted to read between the lines or assume the organisation is a charity. A genuine charity will state this on the leaflet, provide their registered charity number and make it clear what cause your donations will help and support.
There are other commercial organisations that are involved in clothing collections and although they may be acting legally, their leaflets may be largely indistinguishable from charities, unless people know what to look for.
Tips for spotting a genuine charity collection:
- Does the sack or leaflet say the collection is for a registered charity? If so, what's the registered charity number - visit the online register of charities to check that it's genuine.
- Does it only give a registered company number? If so it is unlikely to be a charity.
- Is the charity actually named? Be wary of wording that just says 'families in need' or 'sick kids' as this could be an indication that it is not a genuine charity.
Does the leaflet or bag give a phone number? If not, it may mean the collectors don't want to answer questions.
You can of course donate your clothing to any organisation or business of your choosing but if your intention is to help charitable organisations then by taking a little time you should ensure your donation goes to who you want to help.
Proceeds of crime action against directors of secret diet drops
Confiscation orders of £820,000 have been issued, at Peterhead Sheriff Court, to the Directors of a former business, Secret Diet Drops based in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
Helen Buchan and Carol Wiseman ran the online business supplying products through their website and through social media sites. It was falsely claimed these products could help achieve weight loss and could kill cancer cells or help slow their growth. Consumers were charged up to £35 for the drops. Users were advised to take the drops at the same time as sticking to a low-calorie eating plan and this would help reduce appetite. In reality there was no evidence to substantiate the claims.
Trading standards received scores of complaints about the products and following an investigation a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. In 2016 both directors were found guilty of misleading customers and were fined £9000 and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.
During the investigation, trading standards officers were able to establish that over £2 million pounds of income had been generated since Secret Diet Drops started trading in 2011. As such it was considered a suitable case for Proceeds of Crime action. This was concluded at Peterhead Sheriff Court on 7 November 2018, when a confiscation order of £528,505.87 was issued to Helen Buchan and a confiscation order of £298,316.24 was issued to Carol Wiseman. They have been ordered to return to court in February to detail how they will pay these sums.