Common themes to look out for
Part of the innocence of childhood is the trusting belief that most people in the world are good, kind and always disposed to be helpful and encouraging, particularly to young persons like themselves. They believe most businesses are honest and decent. They think this because, for the vast majority, that has been their experience hitherto.
It can therefore be very difficult to get across the idea that, in reality, there are many people and businesses in this world who are not like that at all. They are the exact opposite: mean and deliberately setting traps which can do considerable harm, not just to their own financial resources, but to those of the parents. But there is almost always a common theme.
Too good to be true
If something appears to be too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
A new iPhone for £10? I don’t think so. Fantastically low prices for stunning clothes from famous brands? Sadly no.
The businesses or people who advertise such things are not what they say they are. If they get your child’s money, they will never send anything in return, or else it will be complete junk. Meanwhile, they have also got your or your child’s name and address, along with perhaps a date of birth, a credit or debit card number and security PIN, along with possibly other information as well.
You or your child will be ripped off again or identity details will be used to establish fake IDs so they can engage in criminal behaviour which could later appear to have been done by you! They may even take out new bank loans or credit cards in your name!
Don’t ring this number
Received a text messages saying you have won a prize in a competition you don’t even remember entering? Or telling you how lucky you have been to be selected to receive a special offer? All you have to do is ring a number to claim it? Don’t. It will be a premium rate number that will make it the most expensive phone call you have ever made.
You are handsome. You are beautiful. You are talented.
Yes you are. But don’t be fooled by a stranger who asks a young person to come in for a photo shoot to create pictures they will promote to fashion houses, advertising and modelling agencies, or asks you to pay to compete or hand over personal data to join a competition or win a scholarship. Your child will waste a lot of time and money only to face heartache and rejection when nothing comes of it.
Check, double check. Then check again.
Bogus sites and scams have often been identified by others, so sometimes just doing a search will take to you to a place that will warn you or tell you the truth about what is really going on.
Will these sorts of financial scams be impacted under the Online Safety Bill?
They already are unlawful. The problem has been enforcement and that may not improve when the new Online Safety Bill becomes an Act so, unfortunately, we all need to stay on our guard, including our children and grandchildren.