If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Scams are schemes to con you out of your money. They can arrive by post, phone call, text message or email or a scammer may turn up at your home.
It could be a scam if:
- the call, letter, email or text has come out of the blue
- you’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about and didn’t buy a ticket
- you are asked to send money in advance
- you are told you have to respond quickly so I don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends before you decide
- you are told to keep it a secret.
Scams can affect many different types of people. It’s often thought that older people are the most likely to fall for scams, but while this does happen, other age groups can be just as likely to be taken in. You can be caught out by too-good-to-be-true offers and get-rich-quick schemes, especially if you’ve suffered a difficult situation such as a job loss. For example, there are training scams which affect people who are hoping to improve their employment chances but which will defraud you of all your money instead.
You can just say ‘no thanks’ to persuasive sales patter. Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you. Take your time – resist pressure to make a decision straight away. Never send money to someone you don’t know. Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance. If in doubt, don’t reply – bin it, delete it or hang up.
If you’ve lost money because of a scam, you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, the national fraud reporting centre. You can also forward scam emails to them. You will need to provide as much information as possible, for example any names or other information about the scammer, dates and details about how the money has been lost or how you were threatened.
If you report a scam to Trading Standards, you’re giving them vital information which they can use to help stop other people from becoming victims of the same scam. Some scams are criminal offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This means that Trading Standards may be able to take criminal action against the scammers.