Scam alert: spotting the telltale signs that someone is pulling a scam.
Q I have just opened a letter which said I had won a prize. I think this is a scam, what is the best thing to do?
A. Here are 12 telltale signs for spotting scams:
• Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious. Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away. Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank. If you haven’t bought a ticket you can’t win it. Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password. Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons. Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, card or chequebook. Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix your computer. You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize. Never send money to someone you have never met. Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
CAB is running Scams Awareness Month, highlighting how scams can flourish if they go unreported. With only 5 per cent of people reporting scams, the figures are thought to be a fraction of the scams in the local area. The campaign, supported by Trading Standards, is urging people to get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and warn others to help stop more scams.
Analysis also shows different types of scam use different methods: Over a third of cold call scams reported are for professional and financial services; 2 in 5 of all postal scams are lotteries or prize draws, inviting people to claim a prize for a competition they haven’t entered; 4 out of 5 doorstep scams are to do with home improvements and household services; 2 in 5 internet scams are about personal goods and services.
If you’ve been scammed, or you’re worried about a potential scam, there are ways Citizens Advice can help – contact your local office or visit the website.