Play your part: Act on scams
Many of the scammers target the elderly, socially isolated and vulnerable who once they reply, are sent numerous offers and marketing mail, basically anything to try to make them part with their money. Names and addresses can be added to “suckers” lists, followed by repeated victimisation through the mail and in many instances follow up with menacing and frequent telephone calls.
Using email and text messages, its possible to send unsolicited offers to thousands of people quickly and relatively cheaply. If only a tiny fraction of people reply, huge profits can still be made by these criminals.
This type of crime is often not reported out of embarrassment or because there is still a belief the scam is genuine. Its been known for this type of crime to remain hidden until a victim dies, and only then do their relatives realise thousands of pounds have been paid into these criminal accounts, normally outwith the UK.
We should all be scam aware and we would also urge carers, relatives and people in contact with elderly, socially isolated or vulnerable to be on their guard.
Be scam aware
- Has the call, letter, email or text arrived unexpectedly?
- You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition and didn’t buy a ticket.
- They're asking you to send money in advance or want your personal or security details.
- You’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends.
You or someone you know may have been targeted by a scam recently.
Research shows the majority of us have encountered a scam but not everyone knows what to do. That’s why we we’re urging everyone to play their part and act on scams in their community.
Help to protect yourself and others by following these key steps:
Look out if:
- you're contacted out of the blue
- they make promises that sound too good to be true - it probably is!
- they ask you to pay for something in advance, e.g. you've to pay a fee before claiming a prize
- you're asked to make a quick decision, adding ‘if you don’t act now you’ll miss out’. This puts you under pressure and doesn’t give you time to think
- they're over-familiar and over-friendly
- the offer has to be kept secret
- they ask for your bank account details. Never give your bank details to anyone you don’t know, especially online
- the company's contact is a mobile number or PO Box number, these are easy to close and difficult to trace. It may be a sign that the company doesn’t exist or isn't legitimate. Check out the company's details with Companies House or search online for more details about them.
IMPORTANTLY: If you think something might be a scam, don’t reply: throw it away, delete it or hang up and get further advice.
Where to get advice
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to take a stand against scams friendsagainstscams.org.uk (takes you to an external website).
Expert advice on spam and scam emails is available at Getsafeonline.org (takes you to an external website).
Read the story of a victim of chronic scam mail at thinkjessica.com (takes you to an external website).
The National Fraud Authority helps to co-ordinate the fight against fraud in the UK also provide advice and support through their website at actionfraud.org.uk. The website includes a section where you can report a fraud.
Trusted Trader scheme
Trading Standards operates the Trusted Trader scheme. It’s a membership scheme which uses an online directory of local tradesmen who have made a commitment to treat their customers fairly. Find out more at Trusted Trader.
can also be known as:
- Unsolicited calls
- Unwanted calls
- Cold calling
and can take several different forms, such as:
- Live marketing/ sales call: When there is a real person trying to sell you something, sign you up to something (including charitable donations) or promoting a product or service.
- Recorded marketing/ sales call: This is when you hear a recorded message (rather than a real person) trying to sell you something or promoting a product or a service. The message may also ask you to press a button to speak to someone.
- Recorded message saying that a business has tried to contact you (Abandoned call): This is when you hear a recorded message saying that an organisation has tried to contact you, but that when the call was put through there was no one available to speak to you. These normally happen when a call centre dialling system automatically rings you but when you answer there is no operator available to take the call. There is nothing being sold or offered in this message.
- Silent call: This is where there seems to be no one on the line, although you may hear someone talking in the background (but they are not talking to you).
More of us than ever are falling victim to sophisticated scams as fraudsters use cold calls to target people. 9 out of 10 Scottish households received a nuisance call on their landline in one month. And three quarters said receiving cold calls had actually discouraged them from picking up their home phone when it rings.
Follow these tips to protect yourself from nuisance calls and spam texts.
- Remember to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ – whenever you’re asked to provide your contact details make sure you look for the marketing ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ boxes. With ‘opt in’ you must ensure that the box is left unticked to say you don’t want to be contacted, and with ‘opt out’ the box must be ticked to say you don’t want to be contacted.
- Talk to your phone company – a range of services can help to reduce nuisance calls. Caller display shows the number of the person calling (although be aware that unscrupulous callers often change their numbers), anonymous call rejection allows you to block calls from people who withhold their number, and your phone company may offer call-blocking, call-diversion, or call-screening services to block, ‘blacklist’ or filter nuisance calls to a junk mailbox. Use your voicemail to screen calls, or dial 1471 to identify who called you.
- Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – this is a free service to opt out of receiving unsolicited sales or marketing calls. You can register a landline or mobile number at www.tpsonline.org.uk or by calling 0345 070 0707. Mobile users can also register by texting ‘TPS’ and their email address to 85095.
- Go ex-directory – this makes it harder for businesses to obtain your phone number.
- Consider a call blocking device – you can buy a device to attach to your phone, or get a phone with one built in.
- Dealing with spam text messages – if you get a text from an unknown company send it to your network operator by forwarding the message to 7726.
Find further information and advice on stopping nuisance calls and texts at citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland (takes you to an external website).
Tel: 03454 040506