There are a number of telephone based scams which are aimed at either trying to get you to call a premium rate number or to pass on personal information such as bank account or credit card details.
Telephone Holiday Offer
You are rung out of the blue by a company stating that you have won the opportunity to buy a holiday in Florida or some other exotic destination at a cut price rate. They ask for your bank account or credit card details. If you provide these details, the money is taken from your account. You are then sent the details of the holiday only to find out that you still have to pay for the flights with only the accommodation being free. In addition the “free” accommodation is often in a timeshare resort and dependant on you attending a compulsory timeshare presentation.
Trading Standards advise you not to agree to holiday contracts via unsolicited phone calls unless you have already seen in writing and understand the details of what the holiday includes.
“I have found a buyer for your car!”
You have recently put up an advert for your car. Someone rings you out of the blue claiming to have found a buyer for you. They will put the two of you in touch for a fee. After you part with the money, no buyer contacts you. Always consider in such circumstances why the mysterious buyer is not contacting you directly.
Telephone Share Sales
You are telephoned by a company that is very persistent in wanting you to purchase shares which they assure you will be an amazing investment. This scam is known as “the boiler room” and involves using high pressure sales tactics to persuade you to part with large amounts of money for shares of little or no value. The companies in question are based in another country. The company often disappears overnight and you won’t see your money or shares again.
Trading Standards suggest that if you do wish to purchase shares you do it via a reputable broker who does not contact you through an unsolicited telephone call.
Salesmen may claim to guarantee sales verbally and then send through written terms and conditions in which almost nothing is guaranteed and it is entirely up to the “buyer” whether they contact you or not.
Computer Technical Support
The scam always starts the same way: the phone rings at someone's home, and the caller – usually with an Indian accent – asks for the householder, quoting their name and address before saying "I'm calling for Microsoft. We've had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems from your computer."
Dire forecasts are made that if the problem is not solved, the computer will become unusable.
The puzzled owner is then directed to their computer, and asked to open a program called "Windows Event Viewer". Its contents are, to the average user, worrying: they look like a long list of errors, some labelled "critical". "Yes, that's it," says the caller. "Now let me guide you through the steps to fixing it."
The computer owner is directed to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote control of the computer, and the caller "installs" various "fixes" for the problem. And then it's time to pay a fee: £185 for a "subscription" to the "preventative service".
The only catch: there was never anything wrong with the computer, the caller is not working for Microsoft or the internet service provider, and the owner has given a complete stranger access to every piece of data on their machine.
Sky TV Scam
It’s a clever, two-part scam. It begins innocently enough with you receiving a pre-recorded call asking if you’re a Sky subscriber. If you respond that you are, then the second part kicks in a week later – by which time you’ve probably forgotten all about the first call.
This time it’s a live person on the other end of the line. He’ll claim to be from the Sky billing department and claim that your subscription for the month hasn’t been paid, and that unless you give your credit card details to be processed, your service will be suspended.
It can sound very plausible, and it’s easy to fall for it – a number of people have done. But once you’ve passed those details over, they’re not in the hands of Sky, but with the scammers who’ve tricked you.
About Overseas and other Lottery Phone Scams?
Action Fraud is urging people not to respond to telephone calls asking them to send money to claim ‘winnings’ from overseas lottery programmes.
The scam starts when people respond to mailings, e-mails or telephone calls telling them they are being entered in a national lottery or some other prize draw, often from Canada, Australia or Spain. They then receive a phone call congratulating them on winning the ‘big prize’. However, before they can claim the prize, victims are told they must send money to pay for taxes and processing fees. Often these calls are repeated and further sums are requested.
UK consumers have lost thousands of pounds through such schemes. The prize doesn’t exist, and they never receive any winnings in return for their cash. Anybody can receive an unsolicited call but some people are more at risk, with over 80 per cent of those affected aged more than 65 years. In many cases the caller tries to befriend the victim showing an interest in their family and friends; they may also pose as a government official, customs officer or lawyer.
These scams usually ask for personal details - full name, date of birth, next of kin, bank account - and once you have given these they will ask for a substantial amount to “claim” your prize, to “register” and to pay “taxes”. DON’T REPLY!
If you have lost money and become a victim of an overseas scam, the Action Fraud would like to hear from you. Contact them by calling
0300 123 2040
Or you can report the matter to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Phone - SMS Messages
Prize Notifications via Mobile
You receive a text message which implies a cash prize has been won, but asks that a premium rate number (09) is called to claim it.
Calls usually cost £1.50 per minute and you will have to listen for several minutes.
The likely outcome of your call is a low value prize or cash amount far inferior to the one expected, vouchers for which more money must be paid in order to redeem them or simply nothing at all.
Debt Settlement Order - Unsolicited Text Message
An unsolicited text message is recieved saying "The government has introduced a Debt Relief Order. People struggling to pay bills can have debt wiped off for ever. For more info text INFO. To stop text STOP"
This is a scam. Even texting ‘STOP’ may cost you money, and will also let the scammers/spammers know that your number is a legitimate one and may lead to more text spam.
You may receive a telephone call or an e-mail from “your bank”, asking you to confirm your account details either by a return e-mail or by directing you to an official looking website for you to enter your details.
Real banks do not contact people in this way.
If you did enter details this would be used by the scammers to drain money from your account.
This e-mail is sent out to hundreds of people in the hope that one will think it is their real bank and bite.
In a recent variation on this some e-Bay customers have been contacted with similar messages supposedly from e-Bay. e-Bay has confirmed that they do not send such e-mails.
General sales and marketing calls
You can reduce the amount of unwanted phone calls by registering with the telephone preference service (TPS). You can do this by ringing them on 0845 0700707 or by using their website registration form found at www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps By registering with the TPS it becomes a legal requirement that companies do not make unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls to your number.
The service becomes active after 28 days. Any company which does not comply with the requirements should be reported to the Information Commissioners Office on 01625 545745
You can also register your mobile telephone with the TPS.
You may receive this type of call from time to time.
Most silent calls are generated by automated dialling systems and are used by call centres for telemarketing, market research, debt collection and other purposes.
Ofcom is the regulator for UK telecommunications. It is able to take action in the case of a network or service being misused and causing unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety to another person.
Ofcom has set out a number of rules for organisations using automated calling systems, including the need to carry a recorded information message which identifies the source of the call and Calling Line Identification which allows people to dial 1471 and access the telephone number of the caller. By calling the number provided you should be able to remove your number from the automated system.
If you continue to receive silent or abandoned calls and your network or service provider is unable to assist, you can contact Ofcom’s Contact Centre to register a complaint on
020 7981 3040
or go to
Say ‘no thank you’ and hang up if:
• The company phones you out of the blue.
• You’re asked to part with money in advance.
• They use high pressure sales tactics to persuade you to enter into a contract. You can help reduce the number of telephone calls you receive by registering with the telephone preference service (TPS).
You can do this by calling them on
0845 0700 707
or filling in the online registration form at