Scams and scam mailings
Scam artists set out to get you to part with your cash. Everyone should be on their guard as scammers are very sophisticated at fooling people that what they are offering is legitimate.
The following are typical scams:
- Letters from psychics or clairvoyants promising to make predictions that will alter your fortunes for a fee. Sometimes they threaten that bad things will happen if you don't respond.
- 'Phishing' for your identity, such scammers ask for your personal account details claiming that they are from a legitimate business you deal with. They will use your details to take money from your account or to buy luxury items on your account.
- Bogus holiday clubs offer a free luxury holiday but you may have to pay for flights, meals and other add ons. You may be subjected to a long presentation to sell you an unwanted timeshare deal.
- Pyramid selling/gifting schemes where you are asked to pay a fee and sign up new members. Such schemes offer rich rewards once you have recruited enough members. These schemes are always illegal; people have lost thousands waiting for the promised payout.
- Lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions that promise you have won something but you must send an "administration" fee first. These scammers make their money from the fees people send. Beware of mobile phone calls like this, as ringing the number they ask you to will cost a fortune on your next bill.
- Unwanted SMS (text) services on your mobile phone. Check all terms and conditions carefully you should not be charged for a text service unless you have agreed to it. Text STOP to the number and the service should cease.
- Foreign money scams and advance fee scams offer you a large sum of money to do something apparently minor like send off a small fee. They may claim that they are trying to get money out of their country, that you have been left money in a foreign will or that you have been awarded a large loan at favourable rates. You will never see the money you send off again.
- Work from home opportunities advertise paid work from home with exaggerated claims about how much you can make. They will ask for money up front to buy supplies or to reveal the "secret". Never reply to any such advert that asks for money up front.
- Online dating offering a dream partner from overseas. A conversation may start up with the dream partner. Eventually they will start to ask you for money for such things as their education, their poor family or to pay for a flight to come and visit you.
- Golden investment opportunities will offer the opportunity to put your money into a sure fire scheme to make money by investing in such things as shares, wine, gemstones and other rare items. The items they offer will be expensive, very high risk and difficult to sell.
- Miracle health cures that promise instant cures from such things and hair loss, arthritis, weight gain etc.
What you can do
Be vigilant for anything that offers a get rich quick deal, intimidates you, asks you to part with money up front, or asks for your personal details. Remember that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Consider registering your details, or those of anyone you care for, with the Mailing Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service to reduce unwanted mail and telesales calls. Removing your telephone number from the directory (becoming ex directory) may also help.
Report scam emails and phishing attempts to your Internet Service Provider and consider installing anti-spam software on your computer.
Reporting a scam
If you or someone you know has become a victim of a scam, you will need to report it to Citizens Advice Consumer Services who will then refer any cases to us that require further investigation. You can also report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk