How a free £5 gift voucher cost Luke £468 – the sneaky direct debit scam that lures people in with genuine freebies.
Luke filled out a survey, got a £5 voucher for his efforts and thought no more about it. 18 months later he discovered they’d been sneakily pulling money out of his account ever since.
Lots of you contacted me about problems with direct debits after I mentioned them here a few weeks ago. One of the letters about a scam was so concerning that I want to share it with you.
A reader called Luke had a knock at the door from a cold caller about 18 months ago. The person claimed to be from Sky and said they were doing a survey about signal strengths.
Luke explained that he used Virgin Media – not Sky. The man said it didn’t matter because it was a generic survey about all signal strengths.
And he said if Luke answered his three-minute survey he would give him a £5 Amazon voucher. Luke was lured by this and so answered the questions. He cannot recall what questions he was asked but does remember signing the survey at the end. He was handed the voucher and it was genuine.
Discovering the scam
But after reading my article Luke, from Cardiff, decided to review his direct debits. He saw that as well as a genuine one for Virgin Media there was another one for “V-Media”.
He called his bank and was told that the direct debit – which had been set up electronically – was for £26 per month and had been running for 18 months. Luke immediately contacted Virgin Media, who confirmed the direct debit was nothing to do with them.
How they managed it
Luke’s story highlights how valuable your information is and therefore how much you should safeguard it. We are not sure precisely what he told the fraudster on his doorstep but we do know that he told them that he was a Virgin Media customer and provided his signature. This information – coupled with his address – gave the thieves all they needed to set up this scam and fleece Luke out of £468. And it would have been far more money had he not checked his direct debits.
I urge every one of you to check yours on a regular basis.
Go through each one and think carefully about whether it is genuine. Don’t just read the description because fraudsters are clever and will try to make the direct debit sound genuine.
Dean Dunham – Sunday Mirror
For more information and tips about your consumer rights, please read our other articles in the consumer news section.