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Safeguarding from scams over the festive season

The Winter holidays are supposed to be the time of goodwill - but unfortunately it also provides opportunities for loan sharks, scammers and fraudsters. Find out more about how you can stay safe from loans sharks and scammers this festive season.

Loan sharks

Loan sharks are illegal lenders who often target vulnerable people. They might seem friendly at first, but borrowing from them is never a good idea – even if you feel you have no other options.

You can spot a loan shark by noticing that they:

  • Offer little or no paperwork (such a credit agreement or record of payment)
  • Refuse to give information (such as the interest rate or how much you owe)
  • Take items as security (such as passports, bank cards or driving licenses)
  • Increase the debt or add additional charges at any time
  • Refuse to allow you to settle your debt
  • Get nasty, resorting to intimidation, threats or violence

You can also check whether the lender is legitimate by viewing the FCA Financial Services Register to see if they are authorised. The Financial Conduct Authority keeps details of all authorised lenders, so if the lender contacting you isn’t listed as having a current authorisation to lend money, don’t borrow money from them or let them come into your home.

And if you're struggling with paying your rent or have other financial difficulties, our Tenancy Support team can help. They can offer a wide range of services, including money and benefit advice - get in touch to find out more.

Bogus callers

Bogus callers are people who turn up to your home pretending to be someone they’re not. They pose as trading standards officers, council staff, charity collectors and more, with plausible stories to get access to your home and obtain your personal details, or trick you into parting with your money.

Bogus traders can:

  • Persuade victims to have unnecessary work done
  • Overcharge you for their work
  • Provide a poor standard of work
  • Fail to give notice of a consumer’s cancellation rights

Always ask to see a caller’s ID badge, or if they give you their name and details from the company they work for, you can contact the company to double-check this. Don’t forget that all of our staff at VIVID carry ID badges and should show these to you when visiting.

If you are not expecting anyone to visit you for a product or service, do not let them into your home. And if you’re really unsure, don’t open the door. If you feel intimidated or unsafe, you can also report the bogus caller to the police on 101.

For more advice on avoiding being scammed this Christmas, take a look at our article about staying safe online and recognising online scams.