Every country in the world has its share of scams of all kinds. In the UK alone, scams are a big industry, raking in up to £3.5 billion from consumers each year. To illustrate the point, that would mean a loss of £70 for every adult who resides in the country. Imagine that – losing money on something that you never bought and never even wanted.
Even as scams are becoming trickier and more complex, consumers are also becoming more aware. The key to avoid becoming victimised is to know what to expect, and to have a better understanding of how scams work.
In this regard, we’ve come up with some of the most common telephone scams in the UK today.
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You’ve won a prize!
Who doesn’t like winning? Winning a prize or a competition is the premise behind this scam, where you will receive a call informing you that you have won something. You will get an unsolicited call telling you to claim your prize, but there’s a catch – you have to call a premium-rate telephone number which often begins with ‘090’, or you have to share your financial details before you can get your prize. Individuals who have called those premium numbers find out that they have been charged up to £1.50 per minute, and calls can last for up to 5 minutes. These types of scams run the gamut from simple prize draws to sweepstakes, so don’t be fooled. Even if the prize sounds tempting, do not fall into the trap. If you do not recall joining any sort of competition or sweepstakes, then take the news with a grain of salt. Better yet, just hang up and tell the caller to remove you from their calling list.
A fake holiday or travel club
If you get a phone call from a supposed travel or holiday club, beware. What happens is that you will often be offered a free or discounted holiday, and all you have to do is attend a presentation. You will be told that once you attend the presentation, you have exclusive membership to a holiday or travel club where you can avail of premium discounts. If you do attend the presentation, you will be stuck for hours, and if you sign up for the club, you will find out that the holidays are limited, and you have to pay for extra fees. At the end of the day, it’s definitely not worth it.
A foreign lottery
This scam involves a call where you are informed that you have won in a major lottery abroad – but you have to send money so you can receive your prize, as there are administrative charges involved. Even if the caller sounds legitimate and professional, you are in for a complete scam. Some callers may even tell you that they can help you win a foreign lottery by buying lines for you, saying that they have perfected an easy winning system. They will often augment this by sending you some low-value cheques. Again, this is all fake.
You can avoid being victimised in a scam altogether by blocking unknown or unwanted numbers. Group Utilities is one company which can provide consumers with a community call blocker that effectively blocks up to 99% of unwanted calls.
By Anderson L.