Three postal and phone scams to watch out forWe reveal postal and phone scams to avoid

24 August 2015

Scammers targeting you

We reveal the ways scammers are targeting you

In our latest investigation into the murky world of scams, we asked 25 Which? members to collect all the scams they received over a month and send them to us. Here we reveal three key postal and phone scams unearthed by our investigation and what happens if you respond to them.

1. Dodgy computer security calls

A scammer calls and tells you that there are security problems on your computer. They convince you to let them remotely access your computer and then either charge a fee to ‘fix’ the problem or extract personal information, such as your bank details.

What happens if you respond

One of our panel recorded the call he received. The scammer tried to scare him by implying his personal information was being made public. The scammer also denied that he was making the call in order to access the panel member’s computer – despite insisting he needed to log into it to help. 

To help protect yourself or a vulnerable relative invest in a cordless phone that blocks calls or a standalone call blocker. Find out more about what our experts thought of the Truecall Care (a £120 call blocker) in our assistive technology guide.

2. Fake catalogue competitions

You are sent a catalogue and a letter that says you’ve won a prize; to claim it you have to buy something from the catalogue. The small print reveals that all you’re doing is entering a draw. The items in the catalogue may be overpriced.

What happens if you respond

If you respond (using mail pre-printed with your name), you will most likely be bombarded with other scams. However, one Which? member told us he’d made several orders and had received nothing. Hertfordshire trading standards says people have lost thousands of pounds to these scams. 

Find out more by reading our guide to postal scams.

3. Sham lotteries

You’re told you’ve won a foreign lottery and need to pay fees to reclaim the cash prize – which, of course, is bogus. Alternatively, you may be asked for your bank details to enable the prize money to be transferred, giving the scammers access to your account. Don’t underestimate the lengths they’ll go to to convince you the prize is genuine – recent mailings have been laminated to make them seem more official. This scam can arrive by post or email.

What happens if you respond

We replied to one scammer who said that we had won a Spanish Lottery worth £500,000. The scammer’s biggest priority was to speak to us on the phone. This is a key tactic, as they need to gain your trust and build a relationship in order to con you.

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