How to protect yourself
How to avoid becoming a victim
Remember, a scam is designed to separate you from your money or obtain your personal or financial details, so if you have any doubts whatsoever, do not:
- send or pay money, until you have looked into what is being offered
- disclose or ‘confirm’ your personal or financial details
- trust testimonials from previous winners, or people who claim to have benefitted from the offer
- be intimidated into making a quick decision
- express an interest, as you may be identified as a target for future scams
- dial a premium rate telephone number, unless you are absolutely sure the reason for the call is genuine
Always act with caution and if you have any suspicions don’t be afraid to hang up the telephone, close the door, delete the email or text message or throw away the letter.
Protect yourself by post
You can opt out of receiving unsolicited personally addressed marketing mail by registering with the Mail Preference Service (MPS) (link opens in new window).
To help reduce the amount of unaddressed mail, (i.e. Dear Householder or To The Occupier, etc.) email Royal Mail or send your name and address to the Royal Mail at:
Royal Mail Door-to-door opt outs
Protect yourself from telephone scams
You can opt out of receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) (link opens in new window).
Number block services - most telephone service providers will offer this service, which blocks any callers who have withheld their own telephone number when attempting to call you.
Call barring services - some telephone service providers will offer this service (although there may be a cost), which automatically bars calls from your phone to premium rate numbers.
Protect yourself from email scams
If something does not look right and you suspect the email is a scam, do not reply and just delete it. Spelling mistakes are one clue. An email that looks as though it is from a company you already do business with but which is addressed to ‘Dear Customer’ rather than have your name might also be a sign of a scam.
Use anti-virus software and a firewall – and make sure you keep them updated.
Do not open any attachment or download any files if you do not recognise the sender. They may contain viruses which will weaken your computer’s security.
Do not email personal or financial information.
Protect yourself from text message scams
To reduce the number of sales and marketing texts you receive, you can register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) (link opens in new window).
You cannot be charged for receiving a text message unless you have signed up to a service – if you want the service to stop, just reply to the sender by texting STOP.
If you suspect a scam, do not reply and delete the message.
Protect yourself from cold calling scams
Always check the caller’s identity and whether the business is legitimate before deciding whether to listen to what they are offering.
Don’t be rushed into making a decision for any work or offer.
Do not pay any money or give your bank account details.
If there is any threat or fear of burglary or violence, call the police immediately.
Before you do decide to have any work carried out, seek advice from family, friends or reputable traders. You can also view a list of approved businesses in our Trading Standards Approved Scheme.
Seek quotes from other traders before agreeing to what is being offered by the caller.
Remember, if you do agree to the work and sign a contract in your home, you have 14 days' cooling-off period to cancel if you change your mind. If the doorstep caller fails to provide you with a notice informing you of this, they are breaking the law.