We regularly receive information about people losing vast amounts of money in response to scam mail.
Examples of scam mail include:
- falsely stating that you have won a prize draw
- that a clairvoyant or other person can bring good luck and health cures
- 'too good to miss' investment opportunities
Often victims report being asked to send more and more money in administration fees or similar in order to release the money they are expecting - which of course never comes.
Some people report ordering goods from catalogues and being caught in a 'subscription trap' with goods continuing to be delivered despite attempts to cancel.
One of the problems is that once you have responded to a letter, offer or email your details may be passed on and you may become inundated with offers from other organisations.
We work with the National Trading Standards Scams Team to help make people aware of the latest scams.
Examples of scam email include:
- emails which appear to be from a trusted organisation, but which are not
- 'phishing' emails, seeking sensitive personal data
Most companies will not ask you to provide personal details by email, such as:
- your bank details
- mother’s maiden name
- PIN number
- National Insurance number
- credit or debit card number
If you have any suspicions, contact the company purporting to send you the email using trusted contact details; for example ring the bank on the number on your bank statement and discuss any issues with them directly.
If an email appears to contain a link to the company website, open a new browser window and go on the company website yourself.
Report suspicious emails to Action Fraud.
How to avoid scams
If you are suspicious about any post, emails or phone calls, check who is contacting you.
HMRC do not email you about refunds, neither do we.
Do not be rushed into making payments. Anything suggesting you must make an immediate payment, especially if this is out of the blue, should be regarded with suspicion.
Be suspicious if you are asked for payment in a different format to the one you normally use. For example if you normally pay by direct debit and are contacted and asked to pay by card. Check with the company directly to confirm the new method of payment.
The police would never contact you and ask for your PIN number, card number or authorisation code (sometime sent by banks via text message when you are doing online banking).
The police would never tell you to move money into another account to help with an ongoing investigation.
If you are contacted by the police and have any concerns, ring 101 and ask to speak with the officer.
Some helpful tips to avoid being caught out by scam mail include:
- look out for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the information you receive
- check online to see what others are saying about the material you have received
- ask a friend/relative whether they think what you have been sent could be a scam
- tick (or untick) boxes on application forms (or similar) which ask for your details not to be passed on
- register with the Mailing Preference Service to help reduce unwanted mail
- check the ‘from’ address in emails (although they can sometimes hide this)
- emails that are not personal to you can also indicate it is a scam
- remember the old adage that 'if it seems to good to be true - it usually is!'