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Scams and scam mail

The aim of any Scammer is to part you and your money.  Everyone should be on their guard as scammers are now using more sophisticated methods in their attempts to convince people that what they are offering is legitimate or official.

A number of useful websites and leaflets have been made available to you on this webpage that we hope you will find helpful.

If you or someone you know has become a victim of a scam, you can report this to Citizens Advice Consumer Services, who will then refer any cases requiring further investigation onto Trading Standards.  Alternatively, you can report the matter to Action Fraud or your local Police Force.

Common Scams to watch out for

The following list provides a summary of the typical scams encountered by the Trading Standards services:

  • Letters from psychics or clairvoyants - promise 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 - scammers ask for your personal or account details claiming they are from a legitimate business or organistaion that you deal with.  They then use your details to take money from your account or buy luxury/high value goods using your account details.   
  • Bogus holiday clubs - offering a free luxury holiday.  However, check the small print as you may have to pay for flights, meals and other add ons.  Once at the destination, you may be subjected to a long hard sell presentation to make you purchase an unwanted timeshare deal.   
  • Pyramid selling/gifting schemes - you will be asked to pay a fee and sign up new members.  Such schemes offer rich rewards once you have recruited enough members. However, these schemes are always illegal and now banned as people have lost thousands and are still awaiting their promised payout.   
  • Lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions - usually sent through the post and promise that you have won something....however, you must send an "administration" fee first. These scams typically orignate from companies you have never heard of and are based abroad, but depite never entering you have still won!  These scammers make their money from the fees people send to them and also from selling on the details of those responding.  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 - if you don't recognise the number , do not respond as  by replying you may get charged an extremely high rate for the reply.  Howvever, if it is a text from a messaging service that you have been dealing with, by replying STOP, the service should cease.
  • Foreign money and advance fee scams - offer you a large sum of money to do something apparently minor i.e. like sending off a small fee).  They may claim they are trying to get money out of their country, that you have been left money in a will or that you have been awarded a large loan at favourable rates.  You will never see the money you send off again and you may receive more similar scams once you have replied. 
  • 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 and they will eventually start to ask you for money for such things as their education, poor family relations 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 that will 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 usually extremely difficult to sell.  
  • Miracle health cures - that promise instant cures from such things as hair loss, arthritis, weight gain, etc.

What you can do

Some useful hints that may help protect you are as follows: 

  • 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.
  • Only give put your personal details when absoultely necessary and if you trust the person that you are giving them to is legitimate.
  • Never send any money to anyone you don't know and do not send any money or pay fees to claim prizes or lottery winnings.
  • If you receive a spam e-mail, never reply to these, even if it is to tell them to stop.  In doing so, you are verfying to the scammers that the e-mail address is active - it is best to delete any suspicious e-mails without opening them.  If you believe that you have received a spam or phishing e-mail attenot, report this to your Internet Service Provider and consider installing anti-spam software on your computer.
  • 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.  In doing so consider  whether any of the mail that does continue to come through is legitimate or not as it hasn't been stopped by registering with either of these services.   Removing your telephone number from the directory (becoming ex directory) may also help.
  • Concerns are being raised over the growing number of companies that are cold calling and signing people up to Green Deals, a Govt backed Scheme.  If you are contacted by any such companies and have concerns, please check with Resource Efficient Wales - a single point of contact from the Welsh Government - for free impartial advice before agreeing to any work or scheme.

Scams Awareness Month

In 2014, Scams Awareness Month ran during the month of May. Participating Trading Standards Services ran activities that helped raise awareness in local communities by encouraging people to talk about the issues and engage with others: friends, families and neighbours.

Trading Standards Institute and Citizens Advice promoted the campaign on a national level, securing coverage via TV, radio, newspapers-print and online, consumer magazines, online bloggers, and social media.

For further information on Scams Awareness Month, please visit the Citizens Advice website by clicking here. 

Remember the Key Messages:

  • Scams are smart. Prove you’re smarter - Bin them!
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Pass on the warnings. Tell your friends and family if you discover a scam.
  • Your actions may help protect others from becoming a scam victim.
  • If you are unsure of an offer, speak to family or friends, and seek advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 0345 04 05 06.
  • Report scams to Action Fraud 
  
Useful leaflets

Scams Awareness Month

Other Useful Sources -

  
Useful Websites
  • Action Fraud
  • Think Jessica - Information and advice about scam mail
  • Citizens Advice Bureau - Scams Advice Guide Pages
  • Direct Marketing Association - to register for both the Mail Preference Service or Telephone Preference Service
  • Information Commissioners Office - if you wish to make a complaint against any company that is mis-using your personal information
  • Metropolitan Police - Scams Alert Page for latest Scams circulating
  • NEST - Wales Government Scheme to help reduce the number of households in fuel poverty and make Welsh homes warmer and more fuel efficient places to live
  • PhonePayPlus - Regulation of phone services including mobile services
  • Resource Efficient Wales - a single point of contact to help people and organisations to save on energy and water and to reduce and re-use waste
  • Royal Mail - information from the Royal Mail detailling what can be done/how to report scam mail that is being delivered.