Think Before You Click The Link

How many of us read the full terms and conditions of anything we sign up for? If you do then you are a rare exception. Most people just click agree. The terms and conditions are usually so long, cumbersome and difficult to understand that we just tick the box.

It is really easy, particularly whilst so many are in lockdown and stuck without companionship or the support of family and friends, to fall foul of agreeing to payments when we don’t mean to.

This is the story of one person’s experience.

The Dating App

I suffer with mental health problems and want other people to know how easy it is to get caught out when you are not in a good place. 

One evening a couple of weeks ago, I was bored, lonely and depressed and was looking to do something that would cheer me up – anything really.

I checked my emails and I had received one from a popular dating site asking me to complete a survey online about what I thought about their site and services.  Without thinking, I clicked the link in the email, and I was taken to a survey.  I started answering the questions without even thinking about it. As the questions went further down, it asked things like age, sex, location, do you have a bank account, bank account number, etc…  This should have raised alarm bells, but unfortunately it didn’t due to my mental health at the time.   By the end of the survey, I had given my bank details, name, address, age, sex, location – and all details without even thinking as I was so engrossed in the activity. 

Due to giving personal details in the survey, the company were able to take £89.60 for a 3 months membership that I didn’t realise I had signed up for.  It was only after informing my support worker, a couple of weeks later, and getting help and support in reporting it to the bank, that I discovered that I had signed up for a 3 month membership, and then further payments would come out in the future. 

Although this turned out that the dating company had signed me up for this membership, I feel I was tricked into signing up after filling in the survey, as I did not read the entire email properly.  The payment is going to be refunded and the membership cancelled – so really not a lot of harm done.

However, by opening up to my Support Worker and informing them of what had happened, I have been able to deal with the incident and get it sorted out.  Lesson learned for me is not to suffer and worry  in silence, as no-one is going to judge me.

After the incident – my mental health deteriorated, and I think it is because I felt stupid and targeted.  It has however, made me more alert and aware of who to go to for help and that help is available.  My message is never feel silly, stupid or judged as it has happened to me and I am keen for other vulnerable people to hear my story.  I will read emails more carefully in future and won’t be clicking any links in them and if questions start looking too invasive, personal or not right – get out of it and ask another person!

I don’t feel as silly as I did as the people who have helped me solve this issue have made me feel human and normal, as in any one of us can get caught out when you are in a vulnerable place.

Support is available from the Orkney Scam Action Group on Facebook, if you need help or advice do not hesitate to contact them.

You can also find them on Twitter: @orkneysagroup

OSAG includes:

  • Police Scotland
  • Orkney Islands Council Trading Standards
  • Age Scotland Orkney
  • the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • the National Farmers Union
  • The Business Gateway
image credit Bell

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