Follow these tips to help protect you against fraud
As the new year is in full swing we have seen an influx in theft and fraud investigations, so we thought it best to kick off with some top tips to not get caught out as a victim of fraud.
Below are some tips and ideas on how to deal with scenarios which may leave you exposed as both an individual and a business. Be vigilant and do the checks, but above all, trust your instinct.
A person is guilty of fraud if they are in breach of any of the sections listed
- section 2 – fraud by false representation
- section 3 – fraud by failing to disclose information
- section 4 – fraud by abuse of position
Giving to Charity
Many of you will donate to charities to help the less fortunate or animals and over the recent years smaller charities are being set up directly approaching persons or businesses for donations. If you find a charity you believe in enough to donate to, follow these steps first.
- Check the Charity Commission to make sure they are registered accordingly – http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/showcharity/registerofcharities/RegisterHomePage.aspx
- There are some exceptions to a charity having to register with the commission, however these are only if they are a church, charitable funds of the armed forces or Scouts and Guides.
- If you are approached to donate to one of the above exceptions, confirm them with the organising body such as The Church of England or the Scouts/Guides.
- If a charity is collecting in a public place they must be registered with the commission and licensed to be there. Also check before you donate to anyone in public
- If you are contacted by phone or on your door step to donate to charity advise you will go to the head office direct and not through the person on the phone or at your door. Search for the charity and use their phone number or address as registered.
- A quick search online of the charity name and owner will prove invaluable. Charities suspected or convicted of fraudulent activity are of high public interest to journalists so there will be a story somewhere. Use broad search terminology to ensure there is no bad press on the charity.
- Check the charities website and promotional material. Poorly designed and misspelt material is a big indicator of a fraudulent company as reputable charities work tirelessly to ensure their marketing is of high standard
- If a collector comes to your door or is in public and they become aggressive when you refuse to donate, walk away. They will not be from a credible charity and may even show falsified ID and documents. Don’t be pressured into donating to any charities
Should you have concerns about the validity of a charity always carry out due diligence before parting with your money. Follow the above steps and your instinct to ensure you make an informed decision.
Online Buying or Selling
Buying and selling online is more and more popular due to the ease and accessibility. EBay, PayPal, Gumtree and direct websites are widely used but also come with a lot of risks.
EBay & PayPal;
- When buying from eBay check the description fully and ask as many questions as possible
- Check the URL in the web browser; a tactic often used by fraudsters is to change the address very slightly to make it look authentic at first glance such as www.ebayz.com
- Check the email address of the seller. Typical fraudulent buyers or sellers use an @yandex.com email which is used in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. If an email address looks suspicious don’t send or receive money from them.
- When using PayPal, if you have sold an item online and payment has been received in your PayPal, check the name of the seller matches the email. Also send postage confirmation before you physically send it to ensure the money isn’t retracted back from PayPal. We also recommend transferring the money from your PayPal to your bank account before sending the item to also prevent the retraction/cancellation of the money
- If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- If you are selling an expensive item, we always advise not to sell directly online
- Have the email address of the buyer or seller verified. Most investigators should offer this service for a nominal fee
- Never follow any links given by a buyer or seller to bid for an item. These sites can be used to capture your payment details and used to defraud
Gumtree and other websites
- Never give out your bank or payment information to make a transaction. Always use a secure payment service such as PayPal or online card payment system which is verified by the bank
- Again check the email address used by the buyer or seller to ensure it is a safe email
- Check the URL in the web browser. If it is a secure site a padlock will be seen in the top right of the web address
- If you are selling an item, do not send the item until payment has been received in full
- Be cautious when accepting cheques. Even if the cheque clears you will still be liable if it is forged or stolen. You could ends up losing even more money by overpayment. This is when someone pays you or your business using a fake cheque that’s written out for more than the agreed value. They’ll give you an excuse for writing the cheque for the additional amount and ask you to send them back the difference.
All the above tips should help making an informed decision before purchasing items online and donating to charity. If you need more assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We always stand by trusting your instinct as the key.
Keep an eye out for our next bulletin where we will look at theft and fraud specifically within businesses. We are also offering fixed fee prices for our investigations specifically around theft and fraud with a 20% discount. To take up this offer contact us at email@example.com or 0330 090 4031 quoting ‘TFTI18’. Discount offer is valid until 31st March 2018.
Author: Charlotte Thornber – Director & Founder of Taylor Investigations