Protecting Yourself, Family and Friends
Members of the public are being urged to keep in contact with family members regularly and inform them of the most prolific scams and the possible dangers to them.
For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit Citizens advice website.
Even if you would not ordinarily fall for a scam these are not ordinary times - think twice before agreeing to or signing up to anything - do you need it? Would you normally engage in this kind of communication?
These criminals will only try to take advantage of the current situation in any way they can - they are sophisticated, well trained and incredibly believable. Treat any unsolicited call, email or knock at the door with suspicion.
Most importantly keep yourselves and your money safe!
Scams come in many forms, postal, online, emails, telephone and on your doorstep and identifying a scam is the first step in preventing it.
- Beware of hype and extravagant promises. If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
- You are contacted out of the blue: you may get a phone call, email or letter from someone you’ve never heard of.
- You have to make a quick decision: scammers don’t like to give you time to think. They will try to pressure you into making a decision by saying things like ‘If you don’t act now, you’ll miss out.’
- You have to give away bank account details: trustworthy firms will never contact you to ask for this information.
- Banks will never ask you to click on a link.
If you see any of the warning signs in a letter, phone call, text message or email, it could well be a scam.
Remember the ABC's of scams
A - Never assume a caller, email or text is genuine.
B - Never believe a caller, email or text is genuine.
C - Always confirm by contacting a trusted number, family member, friend, your bank’s fraud department or the police to check if it’s genuine.
If you believe you, a family member or friend are the victim of a scam, contact Advice Line on 08454 04 05 06.
View up-to-date scam information on the Metropolitan Police website.
View the Nationwide Building Society information guide, Little Book of Big Scams (PDF, 2.72MB, 52 pages).
Use our Scams Checklist (PDF, 554 KB, 3 pages) to protect yourself.
Visit our adult safeguarding pages for more information on support if you or someone you know is vulnerable.
Junk Mail and Telephone Calls
Personally addressed junk mail can be reduced by calling 0207 291 3310 or by post:
The Mailing Preference Service, DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SS
Alternatively, you can register online with the Mailing Preference service.
You may not see a significant reduction in the amount of mail you receive for about four months after registering.
We have been working with the Royal Mail to identify scams and scam victims - visit the Action Fraud website for further information.
To reduce the amount of unsolicited telephone calls, call 0845 070 0707 or post to:
The Telephone Preference Service, DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SS.
Alternatively, you can register online with the Telephone Preference service.
It can take up to 28 days to reduce the number of calls. If particular companies are still making unsolicited calls to your home, send a recorded delivery letter to them requesting that they stop telephoning you. Advise the company that if they continue, then you will report them to the Office of Communications (OFCOM).
You could also change your phone number, this is not difficult to do and can be arranged by your service provider
If you have written to a company asking them to stop calling you and they continue to do so, contact OFCOM.
Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts impersonating organisations that you know and trust. If you receive an unexpected text asking for personal or financial details, do not respond. Remember, don’t click on the links or attachments in any texts and instead visit the official website through a known route.
The public can report any type of SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
Call Blocker Units and Phones
If you receive a lot of unwanted calls you can install a call blocker. We recommend the True Call service.
You can purchase phones that have call blocking technology built into them. These range in price and can be found at many major retailers. The technology prevents the majority of scam calls from even making your phone ring so you know that when you pick up your phone it will be someone you want to speak to.
Which proved a free scam alert service.
You can also submit an FPS request on behalf of a relative or someone you care for. You will be asked to confirm that you have authority to act on behalf of the individual concerned and details of your relationship with the person you are acting on behalf of.
Once the FPS request has been made, the charity or charities selected will be informed of their obligation to remove your personal details from their communications databases within 28 days. Personal information will be needed, to submit an FPS request so that charities are able to identify individuals on their database. This personal information will be sent securely to the named charity and will only be used by them for the purposes of matching you against their database.
Which? Problem Scams
With the help of the National Trading Standards eCrime team, Which?, we will be keeping you up to date with the latest scams and how to avoid them. Visit the National Trading Standards eCrime website.
Get Safe Online
For up-to-date advice on staying safe online visit the Get Safe Online website.
Listed below are some handy hints to remember when using your computer or iPad:
- Reveal bank or card details or personal information in emails, social networking or in person.
- Click on links in emails, posts, tweets or texts and don’t open attachments if the source isn’t 100% known and trustworthy, or it seems strange that you’d be receiving them.
- Pay for anything by direct bank transfer, including goods, services, tickets, travel and holidays.
- Call your bank or card provider if requested to do so by a phone call or an email.
- Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully.
- Keep your device secure by using a pin/passcode, use antivirus software if available and run updates as they contain important security information.
- Remember that a bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password via email or phone call.
- Ensure that your social media has adequate security settings.
To check if an email address is genuine, use an email verification tool. This may help you to decide if you should do anything with an email that you have received. You can also check if a website is a scam using Scamvoid.
You can send your suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and the NCSC’s (National Cyber Security Centre) automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site. Any sites found to be phishing scams will be removed immediately.
Phishing and Smishing
Phishing emails contain a call to action, encouraging the recipient to visit a website that criminals use for stealing valuable data such as usernames and passwords, financial details, and other personal information. They often use urgent language to trick recipients into making a quick decision and not inspecting the email closely.
In the majority of scams, if the recipient clicks on the hyperlink, a spoofed login webpage appears that includes a password entry form. These spoofed login pages may relate to a wide array of online services including—but not limited to—email services provided by Google or Microsoft, or services accessed via government websites. If passwords are entered on the spoofed page, criminals will be able to access the individual’s online accounts, such as their email inbox. This access can then be used to acquire personal or sensitive information, or to further disseminate phishing emails, using the person’s address book.
SMS Phishing (smishing) - The term ‘smishing’ describes a phishing attempt delivered by SMS text message rather than via email. These messages also contain a call to action and encourage recipients to click on malicious links. Historically, smishing has often used financial incentives—including government payments and rebates (such as a tax rebate)—as part of the lure. Coronavirus-related smishing continues this financial theme, exploiting the economic impact of the epidemic and employment and financial support packages being offered by the government.
In addition to SMS, possible channels include WhatsApp and other messaging services.
What do if faced with a cold caller:
- If you are not expecting anyone to call, use a window or spy hole to see who is knocking. If it is not someone you know don’t answer the door!
- If you do get caught by someone either on the doorstep or whilst you are in your garden trying to sell you goods or a service remember you should never enter into a contract without giving yourself time to think about it.
- If you are worried by what they are telling you, we recommend that you call in one of Trading Standards Approved Traders who will assess the work and give you reliable advice. View the Approved traders list.
- Never agree to any contract straight away.
- Ask for the trader’s contact details and state you will get back to them if you decide to have the work done.
- If you do agree to having work done by someone who has just knocked your door and then have second thoughts contact the Police on 101 or Trading Standards on 01983 823371 immediately so that we can help you.
- They may offer to take you to the bank to withdraw the cash to pay them – no honest trader would behave in this way. Do not do go with them.
- Having a door chain is a good preventative measure – when someone knocks at your door by using the chain they are talking to you through a small gap this makes it difficult for them, but easy for you to shut the door.
- Having a sticker on your door indicating that you do not buy goods and services at the door may not stop them knocking but is the first indication by you that you do not want them to call and helps in any investigation.
Remember it is your home you do not have to answer the door or let anyone in!
- The Blue Lamp Trust can install door safety chains. You can call them on 0300 777 0157.
- Age UK also provide a service for small repairs and home maintenance including security chains. You can call them on 01983 52582.
Remember you are not being rude if you refuse to discuss having work carried out on your home and shut the door.
Together we can crack down on Suspicious Cold Callers
If you have any suspicions about a cold caller they will more than likely continue knocking on doors in your neighbourhood until they find someone who may be vulnerable. If we or the Police don’t know about them – we can’t do anything. So, if someone suspicious does call at your door, always report it telling us a description of the vehicle and its registration and anything you remember about the trader. Call us on 01983 823371 or the Police on 101 to help safeguard your community. Please don’t put yourself in danger just tell us what you can see safely.
If you do happen to get caught off guard and a cold caller does talk you into having work done let us know about it as soon as possible. If they are working outside use your house phone from indoors. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and the sooner we know about it, the better chance we have of catching them and stopping them from conning other vulnerable residents.
Cold callers, if in doubt keep them out!