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I’m Going to Steal Your Life Savings Comments Off on I’m Going to Steal Your Life Savings

Posted on October 03, 2014 by Lee

Since before the dawn of time the world has been plagued with conmen. People who could spin a yarn so wild, yet so convincingly, you’d believe them anyway. The origin of the term ‘Ponzi Scheme’ that many will have a fleeting recognition of originated in the 1920’s with Charles Ponzi, arguably the grandfather of the pyramid scheme. Such tricks are nothing new and are even documented in The Bible. No matter your religious beliefs, it just goes to document the survivability and profitability of the confidence tricksters.

In our modern digital world with its checks, balances, security devices, chip and pin, complex password rules and more, physical attacks on your money are harder than ever. And yet we humans continue to be both the weakest chain in the security link, and the most effective attack against our modern security systems. Rather than attack the vault directly as in days of old with all the associated risks and equipment and expertise required; now attackers can sit in the luxury of their own homes, withhold their phone number on an unregistered pay as you go mobile phone, and dial unsuspecting victims and confidence trick their way through all the security in the world by getting you to do their bank robbery for them. One account at a time.



Common Frauds

There are almost as many types of fraud as there are fraudsters, but time and time again the industry is seeing a small number of frauds along a theme routinely perpetuated by individuals and larger organised crime groups. The proceeds go from simply funding lavish lifestyles, to eventually being funnelled through to terrorist organisations.

It’s important to note that the majority of these frauds are targeted either by means of data the conmen have already obtained, or by combining electoral roll information with the phone book. It is often elderly people who receive the courier and transfer fraud calls, but anyone can potentially be a victim.

Courier Fraud

Courier Fraud is becoming big business. The scam first appeared 3 years ago, and there have been many variations on the theme in that time. However the scheme is always along the line: Someone in a position of automatic trust (your bank, a police officer, the fraud prevention officer in a high-end department store and so on) will telephone you and advise of potential or actual fraudulent spending on your card. They will advise you to hang up and immediately dial 999 or your bank to report the matter. They often tell you to ask to verify an officer and give you a reference to quote.

Sounds good so far?

The confidence trick has begun however. The problem is the telephone network will not immediately terminate a telephone call when you have received it (unless it was a call to your mobile – courier frauds do not target mobiles). Instead, the telephone network will hold the call open for a short period. In that time the fraudster passes his phone to someone else just as you pick the phone back up and dial 999. They then pretend to be the Operator. You ask for the police, they pretend to connect you, and pass you along to a third person.

This person pretends to be the police. You diligently explain you have been advised by PC 123 Simmonds of Kensington Borough Police that your card has been used fraudulently and you would like to verify that. Fraudster #3 is only too happy to tap away at a computer and confirm the information and that he can take a crime report there and then.

Bam. You pass over the card number of the ‘defrauded’ card, your personal details, date of birth, address, telephone numbers, and everything else necessary not only to make use of the card but also potentially to steal your identity.

The “call your bank” version of courier fraud is often quite similar. You may be asked to “type in your card pin on your telephone keypad to verify you” after they have asked for your card number. The fraudsters have a DTMF decoder on their end of the line and now have your card number and PIN. They whip off a duplicate card on their end, and go spend your money. Your bank will have a hard time deciding this was fraud as all transactions will be recorded and authorised with your PIN.

Sometimes, depending on the script, they will advise you that a courier will attend your address to collect your cancelled card but this does not always happen as more often the fraudsters are getting all the information they need to clone your card over the phone.


Transfer Fraud

This fraud starts off along a similar theme to courier fraud. Someone in a supposed position of trust will call you and tell you that your money is at risk. They may know a lot about you (remember the intel gathering conducted under courier frauds to target their calls?), and will advise you perhaps that your online account has been compromised and you have only a few minutes to save your money by transferring it to a safe temporary holding account until your account can be re-secured.

This will be a high pressure call. They will not let up until you follow their instructions. “You will liable for all losses on your account unless you do this immediately!” – imagine you’re in your 60’s or 70’s and the convincing person on the phone is telling you your life savings are about to be stolen? The sad fact is they are about to be, but by the person on the phone.


How to Protect Yourself

Confidence trickers rely on conning you, gaining your confidence, adding a sense of urgency, and getting you to reveal information about yourself that under ordinary circumstances you’d never give out.

My golden rule? Just hang up.


Santander have a useful leaflet outlining some of the most popular frauds, as well as ways you can protect yourself and stay safe and secure online. You may think “I would never fall for such nonsense!” and as well you might not – but what about your elderly parents, or grandparents? Print the leaflet off and hand it to them and have a quick chat about this blog post with them. 3 million victims of fraud, and the power is in your hands to not make it 3 million and 1.

Combating Courier Fraud

These frauds rely on you (thinking) you are ringing someone else after an initial incoming call. Simply make the call from any phone other than the one you received the call on, and you’ll probably not fall victim to it. Courier Frauds will always ring your land line, because this type of fraud is not technologically possible to conduct on mobiles. When they tell you to dial 999 or call your bank when you hang up – do so – but do it from your mobile phone. That way you know you will really be speaking to the police or your bank, and not the person sitting next to the guy who just called you.

Combating Transfer Fraud

This one is harder to protect against from a technical point of view, as it is yourself doing all the work. The person on the end of the phone pretending to be your bank just needs to spin a convincing, pressured yarn about your money about to be stolen and only your actions can prevent it.

STOP. THINK. If your bank saw imminent fraud was about to be committed on your account, they would not waste time ringing you, talking for 5 minutes, get you to log in to your online banking, add a new payee, continue with the chip and pin faff for 5 minutes, and then provide you with an account to send the money to. They’d just block your account. Right there. Right then. 

General Advice and Further Reading

The Metropolitan Police have produced a booklet called The Little Book of Big Scams and provides a wealth of information on the scams perpetuating, and ways to protect yourself. It’s a good download filled with useful information in its 48 pages.

Remember, if in doubt, do nothing other than wait with the phone on the hook for 10 minutes, and then ring your bank or Action Fraud. Even better make the call from your mobile if you have one.

If you use some common sense and step back from an incoming call, then maybe I’m not going to steal your life savings.


How to Reclaim PPI – Part 3 Comments Off on How to Reclaim PPI – Part 3

Posted on April 12, 2012 by Lee

This is Part 3 of a 3 part series regarding reclaiming Payment Protection Insurance. Part 1 examined the history behind PPI, the reasons for mis-selling and common reasons you may have a claim, and Part 2 covered a reclaim success story. This part details exactly how to go about reclaiming, and where further help can be obtained.

The most important message I can impart is you can do this all for free, and quite easily. Don’t hand 30% upwards to a claims handler just for having to spent 20 minutes writing a letter and walking to a postbox!

The banks have lost in court regarding systemic, decade-long mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance and you may well be due a refund. Millions are. Check your eligibility against my ready-reckoner of the 13 most common reasons you may be able to reclaim your PPI. Even if your reason isn’t on that list, you have nothing to lose by trying and may win back hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Step 1 – Check Your Policy

You will need your paperwork for this one, so if you don’t have it, you may need to go on a little fishing expedition with your lender. Ask your lender for the Terms and Conditions that applied to your policy at the time you took it out, as it would have changed and evolved over time and court cases.

If your credit account with them is still open, they are obliged under the Consumer Credit Act to supply such information but they are able to charge £1 for this service, but not all do. To save playing letter ping-pong more than you have to, and for the sake of a pound, enclose a cheque for the amount made payable to the company in question. They may or may not cash it, but it will likely speed things along.

If your account has long since closed, they may refuse your request. In this case you can perform a Data Protection Act Subject Access Request instead. The fee for this is £10 and they will take that tenner, so be sure to include it. Either way you’ll get the information you need.

Martin Lewis from the Money Saving Expert has the letters you’ll need here:


Step 2 – Check You Have a Valid Claim

Once you have the necessary items, you can begin to see if you have a valid claim with regards to reclaiming PPI and interest. Look for any mentions of payment cover, payment protection, payment insurance, loan protection, loan care and other such terms within the T&C’s. If you find anything you don’t understand or is ambiguous, ask your lender to clarify.

As I said in part 1, there are some blindingly obvious examples of PPI mis-selling but my list of 13 examples is by no means an exhaustive list. The bottom line is if you feel like you were sold the policy incorrectly, fraudulently, unfairly or were unaware you even had it, reclaim reclaim reclaim!

Step 3 – Write To Your Lender

Once you’ve gathered your paperwork and made some checks against your reason(s) to claim, you need to write to your lender making your complaint and outlining your case. Again MSE has the template letter you’ll need.

If your lender was mainstream, you may find additional information on their websites about PPI mis-selling and reclaiming. Find additional details for the main banks: BarclaysClydesdaleCo-opHalifaxHSBCLloyds,NationwideNatWest/RBSSantander.

Remember: Don’t give up! It is in the lender’s interest to see if they can reject your claim and hope you will just go away. Write back to them and reiterate the reason(s) you believe the policy to have been mis-sold, and ask them to reconsider. Mention that your next step will be the Financial Ombudsman Service but you would prefer to resolve this amicably and without involving another body.

Step 4 – Write to the Ombudsman

If you still have your claim rejected, then it is time to write to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) with your complaint. The FOS is the official independent complaint resolution service for settling disputes between financial institutions and consumers, and are well versed in all things PPI.

The FOS can only get involved if you have not reached a satisfactory result 8 weeks after your initial complaint to the lender itself. But once involved, they will decide whether you have a case or not, and not the bank. It isn’t a quick service – some cases have taken over a year to resolve – but it is completely free, and around 88% of cases taken up by the Ombudsman have awarded in favour of the consumer.

To make your complaint give them a ring  on 08000 234 5679 (or 0300 1239 123 from a mobile), or you can file direct on their website.

You will need to back up your complaint in writing, but the FOS has a template letter you can use to do so.

Step 5 – Getting Further Help

Sometimes it helps just to chat through your circumstances with others who have been there and done that. There are forums dedicated to just that over at Money Saving Expert who will be able to guide you in the specifics.

Martin Lewis (of Money Saving Expert) has also prepared a highly detailed FAQ  with just about every PPI reclaim-related question you could think of.

Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

Interviewing a PPI Claim Success Story (How to Get a PPI Refund – Part 2) Comments Off on Interviewing a PPI Claim Success Story (How to Get a PPI Refund – Part 2)

Posted on April 11, 2012 by Lee

This is part 2 of a 3-part article on reclaiming Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), and is an interview with someone who took on Lloyds TSB on their own, sharing their tips and savvy tricks and their outcome.

Part 1 covers exactly what PPI is, how it applies to products, and how and why the PPI Refund industry has taken off recently. It also exposes the 13 most common reasons you may be due to a PPI refund. 

Part 3 covers exactly how to go about reclaiming on your own, for free.

This morning I’m interviewing Bryony, a 27 year old female from Portsmouth who has done exactly what I’m going to show you how to do tomorrow -and won! – without having to spend out a penny beyond the cost of posting a couple of letters.

Hi Bryony! Thanks for agreeing to share your PPI success story. I hope it will encourage others to take the plunge and give it a go.

When and how did you first realise you may be due a PPI refund?


“I first read about PPI reclaims several years ago through articles posted on moneysavingexpert.co.uk and consumeractiongroup.co.uk. There was lots of information on the court case and how to claim on both sites which was really helpful.”

What was the product you were mis-sold on, and which company was involved?


“The product was a Lloyds TSB credit card, originally sold to under the name of ‘More Than’ back in 2003.”

How was the PPI mis-sold on that card?


“Back in 2003 when I got the credit card, I was a full time student and was at any point in that year only working 8 hours per week, therefore I would not have been covered for Payment Protection [Insurance]. Based on my employment situation, I should not have been offered the cover in the first place and was paying for an insurance that I could not claim under [if I needed to].”

 So how did you go about re-claiming?


“I wrote to Lloyds TSB using a template that I found on the comsumeractiongroup.co.uk website and edited it to suit my situation. I detailed the reason that I believed the PPI was missold and requested repayment in full of all premiums paid and statutory interest. [8%]”

 So you did it all yourself, rather than employ a PPI reclaim company?


Yes, I did a bit of research into the process of reclaiming and realised that there was nothing a claims company could do for me that I couldn’t do myself, except take a cut of my repayment for themselves!

I wrote a letter using an edited template reclaim letter, this initial request was rejected on the grounds that although I could not have claimed on the insurance at the time I took out the credit account, once I’d finished university (3 years after taking out the card) and got a full time job, I was then eligible for the insurance.

A couple of years later I read an article that said many banks had been rejecting genuine claims and wrote another letter explaining that I would like my case to be reopened. My reasoning was that at the time of purchase, the PPI was missold and it was irrelevent whether I would be eligible for it in the future.

When did you start reclaiming, and how long did it take?


“My initial letter was written back in 2008 but after several months, this was rejected. I reopened my case in June 2011 and received my settlement cheque today (April 2012).”

Was it hard to do it on your own?


“The actual letter writing part is very easy, there are some very good templates available as a starting point, and you usually only need to add a paragraph or 2 describing the reason that you feel you were missold the PPI. Some banks are providing ‘quick claim’ forms on their websites.

The hardest part is the waiting, it is generally not a quick process, but the day when you open the settlement envelope makes it all worthwhile.”

How much did you win back in the end?


“Total amount of PPI reclaimed was £509 (including statutory interest)”

Now that’s pretty good for a credit card. Of course, the potential refund and interest amounts can be much higher for loans. Is there anything you know now, that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your reclaim journey?


“Never give up, and never assume that your bank will stick to any timeline, even if they set it themselves!

If you plan to reclaim PPI on a loan or credit card, never treat it as guaranteed money, never budget to include it and never rely on it. Just send off your letter and IF you get a repayment, thats great – but it could take years of patience. My settlement cheque came completely out of the blue, a wonderful surprise and a triumph over mis-selling!”


Thanks for your time and for sharing your amazing self-generated success, Bryony!


Tomorrow in Part 3 I will walk you through exactly what you need to start your reclaim journey, and as Bryony has already started, point you in the direction of further resources that can help should you encounter any lender avoidance tactics.

Would you like to share your success (or not-so-successful) reclaim stories? Come chat in the comments.

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