These are just a few of the scams that the Essex County Council Trading Standards team has come across this month:
- Emails purporting to be from HMRC in regard to being eligible to a tax return of £288.87 in which the business has to register details. The email address from which the email has been sent is a no-reply and not an HMRC email address.
- An email to a resident purporting to be from a police force outside Essex. It stated that his computer had been hacked and used to look at child pornography and copyright infringements. The email stated that £100 needed to be sent to stop a virus destroying the hard drive of the computer.
- A business has been contacted about their business rates. The business was charged for the service but so far nothing has been delivered. The company offering the service is purported to be operating from Bolton.
- A resident ticked a box on a health food supplement website for a free sample. The resident has now been sent a supply of capsules and the company is asking for £64.90 and have stated they will continue to send product at 30 day intervals. On calling the company the resident was told that they needed to email head office for a refund but the “contact us” button on their website was not working. The company is purported to be operating from West Lothian in Scotland.
- A resident received an email purporting to be from HMRC stating that he was a beneficiary of a fund amounting to around $15 million dollars. In order for the funds to be released a copy of their passport and drivers licence was required.
Scams are schemes to con people out of their money. They can be carried out by post, phone, email, online or sometimes via a knock on the door. Scams take different forms such as fake lotteries, prize draws, bogus health cures, dodgy investment schemes, pyramid selling and phishing.
The best piece of advice is: “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”
It is likely to 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
- You didn’t buy a ticket – so you can’t win it!
- They are asking you to send money in advance
- They are telling you to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide
- They are telling you to keep it a secret
- They seem to be offering you something for nothing
What should I do with something I think is a scam?
- Don’t reply to spam mail, texts or emails
- Say “no thank you” politely and put the phone down if they persist
- Phone the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 for advice
- Check the Action Fraud alerts for common scams/ frauds www.actionfraud.police.uk/news
- Ask friends, neighbours or family if the offer is likely to be a scam
- Destroy and throw away mailings.
What can I do to tackle scams?
- Report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk
- Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06. It can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards
- Tell someone. Tip off a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of
- Down load and read the My Scams Checklist leaflet at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam13-checklist [PDF]
How can I protect myself?
- Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
- Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to the businesses that already hold your details.
- Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.