There are a number of scams, on this page we will cover postal scams, telephone scams, doorstep scams and online scams.
Fraudsters will sometimes send their scams through the post to try and get money, banking or personal information from you in a fraudulent way.
Common types of postal scams include fake lotteries and prize draws, offers of investments, inheritance windfalls, health cures and clairvoyant letters.
How to spot a postal scam:
- Look out for letters that have generic opening titles, such as ‘Dear Valued Customer’ and where the style of this opening does not match the rest of the letter, such as the colours or even the font.
- Look out for poor spelling and grammar; this is not what you would expect from a reputable organisation.
- Be wary of letters that ask you to take action in order to avoid some kind of penalty or offer you a prize or business deal that may sound too good to be true. They may even ask you to pay a fee or share your personal details to get involved.
Avoid getting caught out by:
- Seeking advice from someone you trust, if you are unsure about any post you have received. Speak to a friend or family member or call the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03444 111 444 before responding.
- Have your name removed from direct mailing lists in the UK, to do this you can contact the Mail Preference Service on 0207 291 3310 or visiting mpsonline.org.uk/.
- Take care when disposing of post that contains your name, address or other personal information, you can shred this to help prevent it from falling into the hands of scammers.
Common telephone scams include investment, pension or computer support scams.
The person calling is often extremely professional and may pretend to be from a trusted organisation such as your bank, the police or another company you recognise. The caller may have some of your information to make them seem genuine.
If you take an unexpected call from someone you don’t know, asking yourself the following questions
- Is the caller asking you to send any money anywhere?
- Do they want my bank or personal details?
- Are they after my money for ‘safekeeping’ or to ‘help catch a criminal’?
If you do this, I could help you to keep your information and money safe.
If the is yes to any of these questions, the call is probably a scam. Hang up and, use another phone and seek a second opinion from a friend, family member or advice organisation before you do or say anything.
Fraudsters will sometimes claim to be from real organisations. If you’re not sure about a call, hang up and make sure you have ended the call. Contact the organisation on a number you already have, one you know and trust – not one the caller just gave you – and they’ll be able to tell you whether the call was legitimate.
If you suspect is a fraud call, you can report this to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk for more information.
Prevent phone scams:
- Sometimes the fraudsters stay on the line and play a dial tone to make you think they have hung up. It’s worth checking the call has ended, call a friend or the automated switchboard for Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- You can have your number made ex-directory so that it won’t appear in any directories. Visit tpsonline.org.ukor call 0845 070 0707 to record your preference to not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
- You can make a formal complaint about nuisance calls to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) on 01625 545 745 or go to ico.org.uk.
Some criminals tend to work face to face when committing crime, if someone knocks on your door, be alert, as they may be a rogue trader or be planning a distraction burglary.
Criminals may pose as legitimate business people selling goods or services that are faulty, unnecessary, overpriced, poor quality or non-existent.
A Distraction burglar is someone that gains access to your property by distracting or tricking you before stealing items from your home.
Rogue traders however are criminals who take advantage by using high-pressure, forceful sales techniques.
Stay safe at the door by:
- Keep doors and windows locked
- Put the chain on before opening the door if you are suspicious or don’t recognise the individual.
- Ask them what they want before unchaining the door and don’t let them in unless they are legitimate.
- Ask to see their identification cards or call the company they claim to work to check there are genuine. – don’t let them inside while you do so.
- Don’t be afraid to ask them to leave until you have a friend or family member with you.
Online scams and fraud covers a variety of incidents – including online banking, auction websites, and identity theft and online shopping to name just a few.
An email may be disguised to appear to be from your bank or other company in order to trick you into revealing personal details. You may be asked to click on a link which takes you to a fake website where you will be prompted to enter your details.
It is often very easy for some people to forget that they are not dealing face to face with someone and believe what they see to be true, without reservation, or the sort of caution you might apply in dealing with someone face to face.
Action Fraud have produced some very useful steps which you can take in order to prevent yourself becoming a victim of fraud or cyber crime. You can view these on their website.
You can also find out more about online fraud on the Humberside police website here: https://www.humberside.police.uk/online-fraud.