We are all familiar with the stories about the knock on the door and the offer to tarmac your drive for some cash, often resulting in the weeds breaking through in a few weeks! That is just one of the scams and cons that many of us grew up hearing about. The direct ‘knock on the door’ still happens and we would all do well to remember that if the offer appears too good to be true then it usually is.
However, over the past few years we have seen a huge growth in the more sophisticated frauds. Now our phone and the internet offer unlimited opportunities for criminals to bombard us with scams designed to part us from our hard-earned money. These range from the mass e mailings that only need a few people to be hoodwinked to realise a handsome return to those very sophisticated, almost individually tailored, scams that can appear extremely convincing.
I also want to see far more severe penalties introduced for those that profit from nuisance calls. Earlier this year I introduced a Bill in the House of Commons that would ensure the owners of companies that rip people off are held accountable. We must keep up the pressure on the Government to introduce the reforms needed. There should be no hiding place for those that seek to profit from this insidious industry.
With the seemingly endless variety of cons being thought up, it is imperative that people are well informed and that we all understand the bear traps constantly being laid in our path. Just last week I was told of a con involving cold calling, that informs homeowners their cavity wall insulation could be failing, and the helpful company on the end of the phone or on your doorstep will, for a fee of course, sort it all out – Beware.
With everyone being told to get online, and the apparently unstoppable move to a digital future, I am increasingly concerned that many of us are unable to keep pace with the continuous evolution and inventiveness of the fraudsters. Our society cannot simply push people on to this digital pathway without doing everything possible toensure they are fully equipped to combat the threat. We constantly upgrade our anti-virus software on our computer for good reason. We need to do the same personally to keep pace.
Always remember – Never give your bank or card details to anyone asking for it unless you are completely confident. Do not be taken in by notifications that something you use or subscribe to is about to be terminated or suspended. People with Paypal accounts are getting such e mails at the moment. I would ask that we all look out for friends, neighbours and family members that may be more vulnerable to being cheated. I have heard some terrible stories of life savings stolen and lives devastated. Do not be nervous about contacting the Police if you think someone is being taken advantage of.
Stephen Kerr MP