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Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 60 May 2015

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SCAMS and how to avoid them - plus useful tax information

Although I’m sure we are all capable of looking after ourselves, I thought I’d include a piece on information on SCAMS. These are becoming more prevalent with the inclusion of all types of ways that we can be reached, and also the minefield of information we find sometimes when trying to decide about some service we require. Below are a few things to be alert about. (Mae Stewart).

5 common online scams

Online scams are when criminals use the internet to try and con people into giving them money or their personal information. They usually do this through fake websites, bogus emails and even chat rooms, so be alert when using your computer, Smartphone or tablet.
If you’re worried something might be a scam, don’t respond. Talk to a friend or family member or contact Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65.
To help you stay alert while using the internet, read about these 5 common online scams:

  • Email scams - Beware emails pretending to be from your bank or another trusted organisation such as HMRC. These ‘phishing’ emails will direct you to a fake website where you’ll be asked to enter your account details. It'll look exactly like your bank’s website, but it is a fake and it's only set up to steal your personal details.

Your bank will never ask for your PIN or password. Don’t reply to the email, open any attachments or click any links. Read our page on email scams for more help with spotting phishing scams.

  • Computer viruses (sometimes called malware) are programmes designed to break into your computer. Fraudsters often hide viruses in email attachments, photos and other files you can download from the internet. The virus can take over your computer and give control to criminals, or it can for example, scan for your private information, send out spam email or host illegal websites.
  • Ensure your computer has up-to-date antivirus software, and always use a secure site when buying security software online. Most computers come with a firewall, and turning this on will stop some viruses getting through. See our page on protecting your computer for more information about anti-virus software.
  • Online shopping - Be cautious when entering your credit card details and personal information on a shopping website. Read our information on safe shopping online to find out how to spot an unsecure website, so you don’t risk having your bank details stolen.
  • Relationship scams - Some people use social networks such as dating websites or chat rooms to scam people. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll start asking you for money, often by telling you an emotional or hard luck story.
  • Trust your instinct. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Most sensible and logical people can fall for this kind of trick, so it’s always worth talking to a friend or relative about it, especially if things seem to be moving fast. Never send the person money or give them your account details. Be wary of moving from talking on a chat room or dating site to communicating by email. If you arrange to meet, make sure it’s in a public place, tell someone else where you’re going and don’t give away too much information too quickly. Read more about protecting your privacy on social networks.
  • Health scams - Unrealistic claims may be made about medical-related products, such as miracle health cures, and fake online pharmacies may offer medicines cheaply. However, once bought, the medicine can turn out to be poor quality and some can even harm your health.

Check whether an online pharmacy is legitimate by clicking on the ‘Registered Pharmacy’ logo on the website's home page – this should lead to the General Pharmaceutical Council website.

What to do if you fall victim to a scam

Fraudsters are constantly finding new ways to trick people – anyone can be a victim of a scam. Don’t suffer in silence. Contact Action Fraud if you think you’ve been scammed. The information you give to Action Fraud can help track down the fraudster.  If you’re concerned about whether a scheme is legal, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice.
More information
Download our free guide Avoiding scams (PDF 722 KB) or contact Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 to order a copy.
Download the Little book of big scams (PDF 3.85 MB) from the Metropolitan Police

Useful Tax Information
Income Tax is tax on your taxable income. Your taxable income has to be over a certain level to be taxed. There are allowances and reliefs you may be able to claim on your taxable income that could reduce your Income Tax bill.

What is counted as taxable income?

Most types of income will be added together to calculate how much tax you must pay. Some forms of income are not taxable and are not taken into account when calculating whether you have to pay tax.
Income that would be taxed includes:

  • earnings from employment and self-employment
  • interest from savings (excluding Individual Savings Accounts, ISAs) most pensions income
  • State Pension
  • contributory Employment Support Allowance
  • income from shares (dividends)
  • rental income
  • Income paid to you from a trust.

Income that is not taxable includes:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Winter Fuel Payments
  • Council Tax and Housing Benefit
  • War Disablement Pension
  • War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension.

Contact opens link in new windowHM Revenue & Customs for further information about which types of income are taxable and which are non-taxable. You can also download a factsheet from Age Scotland partner Age UK.
Your tax allowance(s) represents the amount of income you can receive without paying tax. Everyone is entitled to a personal allowance and some people are entitled to other allowances as well. You cannot be ‘paid’ any unused allowance.


  • Tax Help for Older People is a service from the charity Tax Volunteers providing free, independent and expert help and advice for older people on lower incomes who cannot afford to pay for professional tax advice. With over 450 volunteers and a national call centre, it doesn't matter where you live.
  • We provide a caring and friendly help and advice service on personal tax issues through our own expert advisers that are jargon-free, independent, confidential and individual to your needs.
  • Simply call the Tax Help number 01308 488066, or contact by post or email via the website enquiry form, and they will help resolve your tax problem.


0845 6013321
01308 488066



www.ageuk.org.uk/scotland or www.ageuk.org.uk
(Apologies to Age Scotland for any mis-quotes in this information) 
Mae Stewart


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