Scams Awareness Month: Other scams

Published: Monday 25th July 2016 by Tom Drinkall

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We’ve already devoted some time during Scams Awareness Month to explain the various online scams to look out for, but you also need to learn about other methods fraudsters employ to trick you into parting with your money or personal information.

Doorstep scams

Fraudsters may knock on your door pretending to be traders, energy meter readers, charity collectors or even plainly someone in need.

Things to look out for

  • Pushy sellers offering large, time-limited discounts. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • Charity collectors who can’t provide a valid ID and a registered charity number, or people who say they work for energy companies but who also cannot produce suitable identification.
  • People who appear in distress who ask to come into your home because they need to use your phone.
  • People who say they’re police officers who need to look at your bank cards and PIN numbers. No police officer would ask you to provide this information.


Prevention tips

Remember, you don’t have to open your door to anyone if you don’t want to. If they’re genuine, these people will respect your wish to be left alone and shouldn’t continue to bother you after you’ve asked them to go away.

If you doubt a person is who they say they are, ask them to identify themselves. A charity collector will be able to supply a registered charity number for you to check while a meter reader salesman, for example, should have some form of employee ID with them at all times.

Postal scams

Mail scams come in many, many forms, some of which include: fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes, investment scams, bogus health cures and pyramid selling schemes.

How to spot a postal scam

If any of the following are present in the mail you’re suspicious about, it could be a scam:

  • Bad spelling and/or grammar in a letter claiming to be from a legitimate company or organisation.
  • A letter requesting action (payment, personal information etc) from a company you don’t recall signing up to or making contact with.
  • A letter asking for money should always be treated with suspicion. Be wary of any letter that asks you to pay up front to receive the goods/services on offer.


Telephone scams

It’s not always easy to spot a scam phone call so it’s advisable to treat calls from unfamiliar people or unsolicited companies with extreme caution.

Telephone scams can be very sophisticated so it pays to be on your guard at all times.

Vishing involves fraudsters deceiving people into believing they are talking to a police officer, bank worker or employee from a trusted company or organisation so they unwittingly disclose bank account details and other personal information.

The irony is that the fraudster will normally convince an individual that they have been a victim of fraud and will ask for personal and financial information in order to gain access to their account.

Prevention tips

  • If you suspect someone is trying to scam you over the phone – do not engage with them and hang up.
  • Be wary of phone calls from unknown numbers.
  • Never give out your bank details, including pin numbers or passwords, over the phone.
  • Do not disclose personal details over the phone unless you are sure about who you are talking to.
  • Do not publish your mobile number online (including on social media).


Identity theft

This occurs when a fraudster gets their hands on your personal details (name, date of birth, address etc) and pretends to be you to get money, goods or services without your knowledge or agreement.

Prevention tips

  • Take steps to protect your data by adopting strict privacy settings on social media.
  • Do not open suspicious emails as they might have been sent by scammers who are phishing for data.
  • Take steps to destroy documents containing your personal data. Some fraudsters wade through people’s rubbish to collect personal data so merely discarding them with the rest of your household waste might not be safe.
  • One way to do so is by putting these documents through a shredder before throwing away.
  • Cancel any lost or stolen bank cards and contact your bank immediately if there are unfamiliar transactions on your account.


Investment scams

These normally involve someone contacting you randomly and asking you to buy non-existent shares, gems, fine wines or other goods.

Common actions include repeated calls, limited-time offers, exclusive offers to you, downplaying the risk of investment and promising returns that sounds too good to be true,

Prevention tips

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) can help you check whether a firm selling shares in allowed to do so.

The FCA also has a list of companies to avoid.

Seek advice from an independent advisor before investing, ideally from one authorised by the FCA.

Reporting a scam

Action Fraud, the national fraud and crime reporting centre, offers a central point of contact about fraud and financially motivated internet crime.

Report online:

By phone: 0300 123 2040

You should also consider reporting scams to:

  • Trading Standards
  • Local police
  • Company
  • Royal Mail


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Published: Monday 25th July 2016 by Tom Drinkall

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