Every day, people throughout the UK are falling victim to a scam of one kind or another. These scams come in different forms - letters, email, telephone calls and text messages.
Please do not give out personal information, particularly bank or card details, or any other information that could be used to gain access to your bank accounts. If you have doubts about who has called take their name and number and say you will phone them back. Then find a number for the company (check literature they have sent you if you are a customer of theirs) and call them back on the number provided to check the person is who they claim to be. Never agree to have any work done without first getting quotes from several legitimate companies and do not hesitate to hang up if you are suspicious.
If you are approached and offered the chance to partake in something that seems too good to be true, before you respond stop and think.
There are a number of methods used to try to get you to part with money but if anything involves sending cash to claim a larger sum of money it is more than likely to be a scam.
A useful guide produced by the Metropolitan Police Force can be downloaded <here>.
To receive fewer unsolicited sales telephone calls, consumers can register with the Telephone Preference Service on 0345 070 0707 or www.tpsonline.org.uk and to receive less unsolicited mail they can register with the Mailing Preference Service on 0207 291 3310 or www.mpsonline.org.uk.
If you have been a victim of fraud, there are two ways to report it to Action Fraud.
On line: www.actionfraud.police.uk or over the phone call: 0300 123 20 40
Basic steps to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of fraud are listed below:
Bogus Phone Calls
General advice for dealing with bogus phone calls:
Please be extremely careful when dealing with any unknown callers and to NEVER to give out personal information or to hand over cards or money in these circumstances. Please remember the following, and please alert older family members and friends to the tricks the scammers can use -
- Your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN, bank card or bank account details over the phone – never give these details out.
- The police will never call you and ask you to withdraw money from your account, and will never ask you to handover bank cards, to give to a courier or taxi driver, regardless of how convincing the caller may seem.
- If you receive such a call leave the landline for at least five minutes to make an outside call. Fraudsters will keep the line open and have been known to play ring tones, hold music and a recorded message down the phone so the victim believes they are making a call to a legitimate number.
- Use a friend’s or neighbour’s telephone instead.
- Friends, family, carers and neighbours are asked to spread the word to ensure everyone is aware of this scam and not to give out personal details.
HMRC Bogus Calls
In most cases, scammers will claim to be from HMRC stating that the person is involved owes payment for a fine. Often this includes leaving a message on answer phones asking the public to call to make payments/ threatening arrest for non-payment and requesting i-tunes vouchers or bitcoins used to pay the debt - these then ask the recipients to call them to make payment or read the codes off the back of vouchers.
Resident should put the phone down on these callers and no money/ vouchers should ever be handed over as these are scam calls.
Anyone concerned about incidents should follow this advice:
- Recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.
- Stay safe - don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.
- Take action - forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to firstname.lastname@example.org and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.
- Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.
- If you think you have received an HMRC related phishing/bogus email or text message, you can check it against the examples shown in this guide
- HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however this would include a taxpayer reference number. If uncertain of the caller we would advise customers to hang up and call HMRC directly to check – customers can confirm our call centre numbers on GOV.UK. For tax credits we do not include customer details in any voicemail messages.
- HMRC Debt management teams do contact members of the public by phone about paying outstanding debts.
- If a customer (or agent) isn’t confident that the call is from HMRC, we will ask them to call back. Depending on the circumstances and to give the customer confidence it is actually HMRC calling, information may be disclosed to the caller which only HMRC is party to.
- Calls from the majority of HMRC offices will leave caller identification data, i.e. the number the caller has used to contact you from
- For up to date advice on scam HMRC phone calls, visit GOV.UK - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples#bogus-callers
Bogus Solicitor Scam
The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has recently posted several warnings of e-mails and letters being circulated from bogus solicitor and law practices. The e-mails in particular are using names of bone fide companies however these e-mails do not originate from them.
The scams take the form of unsolicited emails, text messages, telephone calls or direct mail. They will promise you something unlikely in return for a "small fee", or try to get hold of your personal details such as
- bank account details
- your full name
- your date of birth; or
- login details to bank accounts and other sensitive online accounts.
If you have been targeted by such scams, do not give out any money or personal details. However, if you think there's a good chance someone approaching you may be genuine, ask lots of questions—just don't give them any money or personal details up front. Most scammers will not answer your questions or will just continue to pester you for money or personal details.
Remember, if it seems too good be true, it probably is. Your money may disappear, but the thing you were promised won't appear.
It is a criminal offence for someone to call themselves a solicitor or act as a solicitor if they are not on the roll of solicitors.
You can check if someone is a solicitor by searching Find a solicitor, the Law Society's online directory of solicitors. This directory contains details of almost all of the solicitors that are regulated by the SRA —the only genuine ones not on there are those who have requested their removal from the database.
If you would like to double-check that a solicitor is genuine, or if you think you are dealing with a bogus solicitor, contact the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Athority) immediately.
Check the SRA’s scam alerts for details of recent and ongoing scams.
Post Mail Box Scam
This is where criminals stealing mail to commit fraud ie where mail has been stolen from postal boxes and then used to open up personal and business accounts.
Simple steps to prevent becoming a victim of this type of fraud include:
- Never grant unauthorised access to communal areas where mail boxes are located.
- If possible collect mail from your mailbox shortly after it has been delivered.
- Do not leave mail in your mailbox for long periods of time.
- If you are going away for a long period, ask a neighbour to check your mailbox.
- Consider switching to online paperless bank statements.
- If you start receiving regular mail at your address which is not in your name, contact the sender directly and confirm what information is held by them.
- If you see damage to any mailboxes notify the resident and landlord immediately as it is likely others could have been targeted.
To report any cases of fraud or to get advice about fraud or internet crime call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or dial 999 if you believe a crime to be in progress.
- Never feel under pressure to make decisions, which could lead to unnecessary, expensive or poor quality work being carried out.
- Always get at least two quotations before agreeing to get any work carried out.
- Ask someone you trust for a second opinion.
- If a trader calls at your home, you have a seven-day cooling off period in which you can cancel any contract above £35.
- If you are in any doubt, contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
If you are looking to have work carried out, The Suffolk Trader Scheme promotes the use of Checkatrade's directory of local tradesmen who have been verified by Suffolk Trading Standards.
The Check a Trade directory allows consumers to see what others have said about a trader, enabling you to find the right tradesman for your needs.
In exchange for this free service, you will be asked to give feedback on traders for others to read.
The website has been running for over 15 years, and receives over 26,000 daily visits.
If you are unable to access the online directory please call 0333 0146 190.
General advice for dealing with spam email:
- Do not open attachments or click on links in spam email
- Banks, companies, and HM Revenue and Customs will not ask for your username, password or personal details via email
- Email addresses and contents can be fake, even if they appeared to be from a legitimate organisation
- Never reply to spam email or ask to un-subscribe, it only confirms that your email account is active. Most email services provide a "junk or safe list" which if activated can filter spam out of the users inbox
- If it is too good to be true, then its not true.
- Spammers will use current events to legitimise their message, sometimes within hours of the event.
- If you are suspicious of the sender, do not take the risk - always delete spam email
Last update on Wednesday 07 Nov 2018 by Alan Comber.