1 in 3 cold call scams are for fraudulent financial and professional services
Fraudulent banking services, dodgy credit brokers and bogus investment opportunities are the most common cons at the end of a coldcall, finds Citizens Advice.
Two in five (41%) scams reported to the Citizens Advice service come from a cold call making it the most common method of con reported to the national charity followed by online scams at 18 per cent.
Citizens Advice today launches Scams Awareness Month highlighting how scams can flourish if they go unreported. 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 scams from spreading.
The charity reveals almost half (46 per cent) of scams reported to local Citizens Advice were made by people over 55.
This has prompted a warning that pensioners and those approaching retirement age are more at risk of scams, particularly in light of the recent pension reforms. One 54year old was contacted by a cold call offering to release money from her pension pot, and narrowly avoided losing £30,000.
Analysis of more than 20,000 scams reported between April 2014 and March 2015 also reveals that different types of scam use different methods to approach people:
- Over a third (37 per cent) of cold call scams reported to the national charity are for professional and financial services. One person was persuaded by a coldcaller to invest £100,000 into fine wines, only to find they were worth less than half the amount he paid.
- 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. A caller to Citizens Advice reported that a relative had been repeatedly targeted with prize draw scams, parting with more than £10,000 in fees to claim a prize that didn’t exist.
- 4 out of 5 doorstep scams are to do with home improvements and household services. Common scams are around central heating, insulation and roofing, to gas and electricity supplies and people posing as tree surgeons. Cases include a man who was approached by a trader to fix the pointing on the roof, spending £300 in return for no work being done at all.
- 2 in 5 internet scams are about personal goods and services including cosmetics that never arrive, beauty treatments that aren’t what they say on the tin and slimming pill subscription traps. Citizens Advice heard from one woman who tried a ‘free trial’ of slimming pills, only to find that £200 had been taken from her account during the trial.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- If you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.
- You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
- If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
- Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious.
- Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
- Never send money to someone you have never met.
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
- Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment cardor chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.
- 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.
- Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.