Spotlight on scams and mis-selling

Recently the national press have covered the story of Sylvia Kneller, a pensioner who lost over £200,000 to scam letters over the past 56 years. Friends and family warned her that these were scams, but she didn’t want to believe them, ever hopeful that a big windfall would soon be hers.

Cambridgeshire Trading Standards have said they sadly come across local residents who have lost significant amounts of money, for some their life savings, to such scams. These scams are operated by career criminals who use sophisticated tactics to persuade you to part with your money.We hope the article below will help you to avoid many of the most common types of scam.

Scam letters

Commonly these claim you have won a prize and ask for a small payment in advance … and then another, each time requesting a larger sum. No prize is ever forthcoming. We also frequently uncover letters from supposed ‘clairvoyants’ who claim they can bring you luck or protect you from harm in exchange for payments. These are all scams and once you send money to one, you will be inundated with more.

Telephone scams

Beware of callers who claim to be calling about the non payment of telephone bills and threatening to disconnect you unless immediate payment is made. Check the facts and contact your provider on the number provided in your paperwork. Ensure there is a dialling tone before calling them in case the fraudsters have remained on the line ready to pose as your service provider. If there is not a dialling tone, try again in 5 minutes.
You may experience a series of silent calls, followed by a call from a company offering to help prevent silent calls, for a fee. This call is made by the same fraudsters who were making the silent calls.

Door-to-door callers

With regards to house alarms, beware of telesales calls (often followed up by a house call) offering an alarm system at virtually no cost. The catch is the annual service charge which amounts to thousands of pounds.
Beware of any trader who knocks at the door offering to do home improvement or gardening work for you, no matter how friendly they seem or how cheap the job appears. This is the prime way rogue traders find customers.
Be cautious of door-to-door callers who claim to be ex-convicts who are trying to turn their lives around by selling domestic products such as dusters. Their story is untrue and once you buy from them they will call on you again and again.

For further information or to report a scam, visit Action Fraud’s website or call 0300 1232040.

If you feel that you are trapped in a cycle of responding to scam letters/calls and are sending frequent payments, we can provide you with support to help you break the cycle. Please contact us via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, on 0845 4040506.