Scam’s aren’t a joke – sometimes leaving people penniless after criminals con them into parting with their life savings.
Some are also incredibly clever, technically sophisticated and play out over months.
Others, less so.
In fact, Cheshire Police have uncovered what they’re calling the “worst scam ever” after they were made aware of a letter warning people their debit card could spontaneously combust.
The letter pretends to be from Barclays, and tells people they are at risk of being burnt “terribly” unless they return the cards – along with their personal details including the card’s PIN – to an address in India.
How is this possible? According to the letter there was a fault at the factory in “Molton” Keynes.
When asked about the letter, Barclays made it absolutely clear there is no Barclays Debit Card Factory in Molton Keynes – or at 187 Bangalore Lane, Bangalore for that matter.
In full, the letter reads:
“IMPORTANT NOTICE – DEBIT CARD SAFETY RECALL
“Many of our bank customers have reported that their debit cards caught fire while they are in wallets and purses, and so as a precaution we are issuing an URGENT safety recall.
“This is a matter of the uppermost emergency as your card could create a pocket fire at any given moment, burning your legs and stomach terribly.
“This is because of a fault in the factory process at our debit card factory in Molten [sic] Keynes.
“Therefore, for your own safety and verification, please complete the bottom of this form, and return it with your debit card to the safety manager at the following address”
It’s signed “Eric Smith, Barclays Debit Card Safety Manager”.
No laughing matter
While we might have a chuckle, Barclay’s is keen to emphasis that, firstly, it’s not from them; and, secondly, fraud isn’t a laughing mattter.
“A number of customers have reported receiving letters pertaining to be from ‘Barclays Bank Debit Card Factory’ in ‘Molton Keynes’. These letters are a scam and customers should ignore the instructions given. Your bank will never ask for your card to be returned, PIN or account details,” a Barclays spokeswoman told Mirror Money.
The bank added that the only thing it would ask you to do with a card is cut it up and dretroy it, not send it back.
Barclays urged any customers are concerned that they have scammed or noticed suspicious activity on their account to report this to the bank as soon as possible – either by calling its fraud team directly or visiting their local branch.
“We have no higher priority than the protection of our customers’ funds and have invested significantly in fraud and scam prevention initiatives,” Barclays said.
Here are the banks tips to staying safe from scammers:
Do your research : Don’t agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to obtain independent/legal advice before making a decision. Don’t hand over money or sign anything until you have checked the credentials of the company or individual.
Look for the lock : If you are buying online, always log on to a website directly rather than clicking on links provided in an email. Always use the approved payment mechanism and never purchase an item on a site unless it has the “https” and a padlock icon to the left or right of the URL.
Check your balance : Regularly check your balance online or in branch to quickly spot any irregularities with payments. Make sure you check the correct amounts have been deducted and that your payments are going to the correct place.
Trust your instincts : If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Equally, if it doesn’t seem quite right, it’s probably not!
Keep your information safe : Never give banking or personal details to anyone you do not know or trust. This information is valuable so make sure you protect it. Also when buying online, don’t save your payment details when prompted but always enter them manually for each purchase.
Report scams : Don’t be embarrassed to report a scam. Because the scammers are cunning and clever there is no shame in being deceived. By reporting you will make it more difficult for them to deceive others.