Have you had an offer to invest some money or have you been told that you have won a prize? The paperwork may look professional or the call may seem genuine but it could be an attempt to get you to part with your money. A scam is anything that makes you think you will benefit from something when you actually lose out.
Cheshire East’s Trading Standards Investigations are telling residents about:
- the types of scams that are currently out there
- how to spot them
- what to do if they or someone they know falls victim to one
- how to protect themselves in the future.
Types of scam
Scams affect millions of people each year across all walks of life, financially, physically and mentally. Many victims of scams suffer in silence with just five per cent of scams victims reporting the crime. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle or cheat, they are all crimes. It has been reported that 3.2 million people in the UK fall victim to scams each year, with £3.5 billion being lost. Although current figures believe the financial loss in the UK to be around £14.5 billion.
There are many different types of scams out there, but they all have the same purpose and that is to get their victims to part with their money. Unfortunately victims are quite often contacted repeatedly by different scammers and this can have devastating consequences.
Visit our scams aimed at Consumers and scams aimed at Businesses pages to see what scams are currently doing the rounds.
Tips to spot a scam
- Does an offer sound too good to be true?
- Did I receive a call out of the blue?
- Do I have to provide my bank or credit card details?
- How can I have won a competition I have not entered?
- Do I have to ring or fax a premium rate number?
- Has the letter come from overseas?
- Is the address a PO Box number?
- Are you rushed into making a decision e.g. you might be told that you must reply straight away or the money will be given to someone else?
- Do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
- Are they very persistent and will not take no for an answer?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, be cautious. Remember if an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Resist the temptation to respond - once you respond to bogus promotions, your name and address is likely to be placed on other lists for similar scams.
Do not give your bank or credit card details to anyone unless you know who they are and you know what you are getting for your money.
Be sceptical – why would someone who doesn’t know you want to give you something for nothing?
If you spot a scam tell your family and friends so that they don’t get conned.
Sources of scams awareness
- National Trading Standards Scams Team - The NTSST provide leadership, influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment nationally, regionally and locally.
- Get Safe Online – tips and resources for people to protect themselves against online scams.
- Take Five to Stop Fraud - The Take Five campaign encourages people to stop and think if what they are being told is true, by providing top tips on what to look out for.
- Friends Against Scams - FAS is a National Trading Standards initiative, which aims to prevent and protect people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to take "Take A Stand Against Scams".
- Little Book of Big Scams (PDF, 2MB) - The 4th edition of the booklet highlights the current scams people are falling for and how to protect yourself and others from them.
- The FCA website - advice on Ten Top Tips for to help investors avoid the clutches of scammers.
Help for people who have been scammed
- Think Jessica – a charity protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and by telephone.
- Victim Support – gives free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales. Call 0845 30 30 900.
- Age UK – has local branches around the UK providing help and support for older people.
- The Silver Line – is a free 24-hour dedicated helpline for older people across the UK (0800 470 80 90) which provides information and befriending for elderly people.
- Royal Voluntary Service offers a befriending service.