Have you spotted a super deal on firewood or pellets? Beware of fraud!
November 15, 2023
3 minutes to read
As winter approaches, more people are replenishing their stocks of wood and pellets to heat their homes, preferably in the most affordable way possible – and this is exactly what criminals are eager to exploit. As they see it, the higher the demand, the greater their opportunity to cheat people.
Last year, the FPS Economy authority and Safeonweb warned about fraudulent vendors of firewood and pellets after receiving a large number of reports from people who had been scammed. Wood pellet fraudsters are active once again this year.
Criminals are taking advantage of higher prices to set up websites where you can order logs and pellets – cheaply, they claim. They advertise them online and via email. It is often difficult to distinguish their sites from legitimate ones. They often imitate companies with well-known names and reputations. You pay, but you will never receive your order.
How can you protect yourself?
Fraudsters rely on you to forget to check whether a website is legitimate or not. Here are some "best practices" to help you remain on your guard:
- Be critical. Considering a deal that looks too good to be true? It probably is.
- Make sure the website you are buying from is secure (https). If it is, you will also see a padlock next to the URL.
- Beware of unsolicited emails in your mailbox that offer wood or wood pellets for sale at low prices.
- Check that the URL matches the name of the website.
- Check the website for contact details such as a phone number, physical address or an email address.
- Check whether the company is registered with the National Companies Database. You can do so using this link. Also check that it is not using the company number of a different company.
- Search for reviews from other customers of the website and the product you want to buy. If there aren't any or if they are all very positive, this is a red flag.
- Never provide more personal information than is necessary to make your purchase. You should be particularly cautious about sharing credit and debit card details and other financial information.
What if you find you have been scammed?
If you have been the victim of a scam, here are some steps you can take:
- Report it to the police immediately.
- Call Card Stop on +32 (0)78,170,170 or contact your bank if you have handed over bank details or other financial information.
- If you are a Keytrade Bank customer, you can also block your card yourself using the app or the transaction site. Alternatively, you can call our Contact Centre.
- Also inform the Economy FPS authority using this link.
- If you have shared any personal information, it is best to change your passwords for all other online accounts for which you use the same login details.
- Forward the email or ad you clicked on to firstname.lastname@example.org. This will enable you to protect not just yourself, but others too.
Beware of other types of fraud!
Fake webshops are just one of the many ways scammers try to take your money from you. Would you like to know more about the most common forms of fraud? Read our blog to find out what scammers are doing nowadays.