What do scams have to do with Home design? Nothing, but our lives have changed and using this podcast to educate about various things is what we’re all about.

Scammers are inventive and keep coming up with new ways to con people out of their money.  Nancy and Chris Diamond chat about different types of scams and how you can protect yourself.  



Scammers do their homework and find information about you before they make contact. They use a variety of techniques, including flattery and emotional manipulation, to draw you in. Older people may be more vulnerable because scammers often target people who:

  • live alone and may feel lonely and want to talk
  • are at home during the day
  • have money or valuables.

How to spot a scam

Some scams are very clever and they can be hard to spot. Things to look out for include:

  • offers that come out of the blue
  • requests to share your bank account details or verify a password or PIN
  • prizes that ask you to send money up front to claim your winnings
  • time-limited offers that ask you to act quickly
  • companies with vague contact details, such as a PO Box or mobile number, or a premium rate number usually beginning 090
  • companies that call you repeatedly and stay on the phone a long time
  • confidential offers that you’re told not to tell family or friends about.

As a general rule, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

How to protect yourself

Scammers are clever and ruthless, and they’ll do anything to get hold of your personal details. Be very careful about who you give your personal details to.

Never send money to someone you don’t know or trust. And remember – your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN or password or ask you to transfer funds for fraud reasons.

In person

  • If anyone comes to your door, make sure you check their ID. Don’t let anyone in if you don’t want to.
  • If you’re interested in what they’re offering, don’t agree to buy anything there and then. Take your time and check their credentials.
  • If they’re offering a service, get a written quote and quotes from two or three other businesses as well.


  • Install legitimate anti-virus and firewall software and make sure you keep it up to date.
  • Don’t click on links or attachments in an unsolicited email, even to unsubscribe. Go to the organization’s own website.
  • Don’t reply to scam emails even to say no – this lets the scammer know the account is active.
  • Don’t use public WiFi to make any financial transactions, such as online banking or shopping.

On social media

  • Check your privacy settings regularly to make sure they’re up to date.
  • If you receive a message from someone you know asking for money, double-check with that person through another medium, such as by calling them.
  • Don’t share personal information, or information that could help a criminal, such as your pet’s name, your date of birth, or details of when you’re on holiday and your home will be empty.
  • If you’re not sure whether an account is genuine, contact that person through another medium to check.

On the phone

  • Hang up on cold callers and ignore cold texts.
  • Ask for the name of the person who is calling you and who they represent. Check the information by calling the company’s head office.
  • Wait for at least 20 minutes before you call an organization or company that has called you unexpectedly or use a different phone line in case the caller has kept the line open.

Staying safe – the basics

There is a lot you can do to protect yourself online. Some basic tips include:

  • always use strong passwords and use a different password for each site
  • use a reliable password manager so you don’t have to remember lots of different passwords
  • keep your browser (such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari), operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Android), and security software (firewall, anti-spyware, anti-virus protection) up to date
  • when you’re shopping, making payments or banking online, make sure the website is genuine and secure
  • be very careful about what personal information you give out online or in person
  • on social media, keep your privacy settings up to date and don’t accept friend or follow requests from people you don’t know
  • don’t click on links in emails or open attachments if you don’t know the sender or if anything about the email looks strange.

Most of this advice also applies to mobile phones, tablets and other devices. 

Protecting your computer

Any computer connected to the internet is at risk. You should install security software and make sure you’re running the latest version of your operating system (for example Windows or Mac OS on PCs and laptops, or Android or iOS on smartphones and tablets). You should receive a notification when updates are available or you can update it manually. If you can, set your device to update itself automatically when updates are released. These updates will include the latest security patches to protect your computer from viruses and hackers.

If you use a wireless router make sure that it’s secure so that only people with a key or password can use it. And if you’re out and about, remember that public wireless hotspots might not be secure.

Internet scams

Scammers are criminals who try to get money or personal information from you. Some of the most common internet scams are:

  • phishing emails, which usually claim to be from your bank, HMRC or the police
  • social media scams
  • fake websites
  • relationship scams
  • cheap medicine or miracle cures
  • shopping scams.

Looking after your money

Banking and shopping online are convenient and usually very safe. Most organisations take your security seriously but there are fraudsters who will try to trick you into revealing your personal details and there are some very convincing fake websites.

If you use online banking, you should:

  • sign up to any security software provided by your bank
  • only access your account from a device you trust and over a secure Wi-Fi connection
  • never log in to your bank via a link in an email – always type the address into your browser
  • never give your full login details over the phone or in an email.

For more information about safe banking online, go to Financial Fraud Action UK.

Online shopping is easy and gives you more choice but there are risks. Be careful who you buy from and how you pay for your purchases. Before making a payment online, check that the website is secure:

  • there should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame – not on the page itself
  • the web address should begin with https:// – the ‘s’ stands for secure

You can also look for other signs that the online shop is trustworthy. For example, do they have a physical address and telephone number advertised? You can also search for independent reviews. 

When you’ve finished your purchase, always log out of the site. Just closing your browser is not enough to keep your details safe.

Don’t use bank transfers to pay for things online. This means the money goes straight from your account to the seller’s and it’s just like paying by cash. It’s not the same as paying by credit or debit card. There’s no consumer protection and if there’s a problem, you won’t be able to get the money back.

Courier fraud

Scammers may contact you saying that they’re calling from your bank or the police. They then trick you into revealing your PIN and handing over your debit or credit card.

They may:

  • say a fraudulent payment has been spotted on your card
  • ask you to call back using the number on the back of your card. They’ll keep the line open so when you call, you’re connected straight back to them
  • ask for your PIN number or ask you to key it into your phone.

The scammer then sends a courier or taxi to pick up your card. Once they have your card and PIN, they can spend your money.

You should:

  • wait for 20 minutes before you call your bank
  • if possible, use a different phone or call somebody else in the meantime
  • never reveal your PIN to anyone – your bank or the police will never ask you for your PIN, bank card or to withdraw money.

There are many variations on this scam. For example, they may say it’s an undercover operation, so you mustn’t tell your bank or the police. They may ask you to transfer all your funds into a ‘safe account’ or buy an expensive item to help them identify counterfeit goods.

Fake computer support calls

Someone may call claiming to be from Microsoft or another computer security company. They’ll tell you there’s a problem with your computer and offer to fix it for a fee. They may ask for permission to take control of your computer. If you give them access, they’ll try to get hold of personal information, such as passwords and account details.

Microsoft and similar firms will never call you. If you receive a call like this, hang up.

Post and email scams

Lotteries / prize draws

You might receive a letter congratulating you on winning a cash prize. Before you can get the money, you have to pay an administration fee and/or call a premium rate number.


  • you can’t win money or a prize in a competition you haven’t entered
  • you can’t be chosen at random if you don’t have an entry
  • never send money to someone you don’t know and trust.

You won’t receive a prize and, if you respond, you’ll probably receive more of this type of mail because your name will be added to a list.

Email scams

These can take many forms:

  • phishing emails that try to trick you into revealing your bank details – they may direct you to copycat websites that look like your bank’s website
  • stranded traveler emails – supposedly from a friend (whose email account has probably been hacked) who says they’ve been robbed abroad and asks you to send them money
  • advance fee – the sender has something valuable and offers a reward for your help moving it from one country to another, but you have to make a payment or provide bank details
  • inheritance – someone has left you money in a will and you have to send an administration fee to get the money
  • miracle cures and medications from online pharmacies.

You should:

  • delete all messages without reading them if they’re from somebody you don’t know
  • if you do read them, don’t open any attachments as they may contain a virus
  • ignore spam/junk email – don’t reply or click on any links, even to unsubscribe.



This podcast sponsored by Premier Lighting
November 18, 2020

email questions to Nancy@NancyHugo.com