How to avoid scams—inheritance AND promises of Covid-19 testing kits

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As a member of Friends Against Scams, we take our responsibilities to share advice that may help prevent you or anyone you know becoming a victim of fraud seriously.

Friends Against Scams has issued updated guidance on some of the COVID-19 scams the organisation is aware of, noting that contact can come via phone, by the post, online or even people chapping on the door.

Scams include:

  • Offers of virus testing kits.
  • Vaccines or miracle cures—there is currently no vaccine or cure.
  • Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself from coronavirus such as anti-bacterial products.
  • Shopping or medication collection services.
  • Home decontamination services.

We are also aware that unscrupulous individuals and organisations will often try to cheat people into revealing their bank account details by promising them an inheritance. Or you may find yourself forking out large sums of money to a company in order to get that inheritance.

Most reputable probate research firms use the contingency fees option—where beneficiaries sign a percentage-based agreement with the probate research firm. This is payable only on the successful distribution of an estate, so the client is never out of pocket.

If you are approached by a probate genealogy firm, bear in mind that the probate research industry is unregulated. This is not necessarily a problem if a company adheres to voluntary codes and regulatory regimes, and is a member of a body such as the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists & Heir Hunters (IAPPR), as we are at Finders International.

Make sure you are dealing with a professional company, though sometimes this can be a bit ‘smoke and mirrors’. Firms can appear to list ‘offices’ around the world by placing keywords on their website and can claim to have a base in an impressive serviced ‘office’ address in London, for example.

To avoid scams in general, the following might be helpful.

  • Don’t be rushed into making a decision. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Only buy goods and services from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. If in doubt, speak to someone you trust.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service, they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.
  • If you think have been scammed, contact your bank first.
  • If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.

#ScamAware  #Coronavirus

 

Finders International is an award-winning probate research firm.  Our regulations and credentials include the IAPPR, Friends Against Scams, we are approved APSE partners and are the first probate research firm to be approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).  For a full list of our credentials, please visit our website here.  Alternatively, you can call +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email [email protected]