/ Money

Mail order shopping scams: have you been targeted?

Scammers are notorious for finding and preying on the more vulnerable members of society, including those in later life.

They are convincing liars who use every trick in the book to make their scams sound plausible. They are ruthless and don’t care who they hurt along the way.

That’s why keeping the consumer up to date with new and common scams – as well as taking action against the perpetrators of scams – is very important to us.

On our Safeguard us from scams campaign page, you can sign up to force action on scams. You can also find the most common reported scams in your area.

On the Consumer Rights website, there’s a whole raft of information on the subject, from how to get your money back after a scam to reporting and spotting a scam.

And here on Which? Conversation, we’re constantly updating our community on new scams and how to avoid being caught up in scams.

Mail order scams

A Which? member recently got in touch with us about her experience after receiving a catalogue from a mail order company through the post.

They purported to sell goods aimed at older people to help them continue living independently at home.

She ordered several items from them and sent a cheque, which has been cashed. But nothing has been delivered and she can’t get hold of them. Their premium rate phone number is charged at 13p per minute.

Online reviews show that she is by no means alone. One reviewer claims that she was sent a letter by the company that includes phrases like ‘authorised cash award payment’, ‘this is very important’, ‘guaranteed share of £20,000’.

Dodgy catalogues

Another online reviewer believes that his address has been sold by the company on to other unscrupulous companies, because he is now receiving other pieces of unwanted literature and he can’t make them stop.

Digging into the company a little further, we found the director was also a director of several other mail order companies.

One unhappy reviewer of a sister company said it took him 6 months to receive a refund on a later life care product he ordered but never received.

And the Advertising Standards Authority has previously reprimanded the company for bombarding customers with junk mail.

We’re looking further into this group of companies and hope to be able to report back to you with further details soon.

Our advice

A bona fide mail order company won’t be trying to lure you in with false claims of prizes and large amounts of cash to be won.

If you receive a catalogue through the post with tempting products, it always pays to do some online research using the catalogue name to see what other people’s experiences are. Yell.com, for example, is a good place to start.

If you are concerned about receiving unwanted junk mail, read the Consumer Rights website’s information about how to stop unwanted junk mail.

On Which? Later Life Care, we give advice about other postal scams, things to watch out for and what to do if you’re caught out by a postal scam.

These aren’t the only types of scams aimed at older people – scammers find their way in through the phone, online and on the doorstep.

Have you been scammed by fake mail order fraudsters? Or been scammed in another way? Please share your story in the comments.


We do not answer the landline phone for any callers who are not in our phonebook. We have an answerphone with a message saying “We do not respond to cold callers, others may leave a message and we’ll get back to you”. We average around 20 calls a week who are not on our list and who do not leave a message – we consider these to be cold callers or scams. One needs ‘Caller Display’ for this to work but it saves a lot of wasted time saying no.

We use a BT phone (BT8610) that comes with a call blocking service. Anyone not in the phone’s address book is asked to leave a message. And if they do not leave a message, i.e. scammers, then there is a button that you can use to block any subsequent calls from that number. Also it confuses the computer callers – they hate it and ring off. My Mum now does not have to answer any cold callers.

We have similar with Sky. We never get any cold callers now, and we used to get several a day. The sky system asks the caller to give a name, and records it. If they do, the system then rings our phone and says that ‘the recording’ wants to talk to you. You have the option of rejecting, blocking, or allowing every call from that number. It’s great.

Bev Kelly says:
10 October 2019

I saw an advert on Facebook for Keto products I filled in the order form on 9/7/2019
Still not received but they took the money immediately from my account
Since then e-mails have gone back and forth promising my money would be returned
Nothing has been received by me other than a “good Will” 25%

I have a BT phone that has a button to push if a scam call is received – does this work when they never leave their phone numbers anyway? And why since it is such a loophole why are people allowed to withhold their phone numbers whne calling you up, I see no such necessity for it can you campaign for this, if not why not?

It’s a shame that my mother’s local council do not appreciate that when they call with a withheld number, they should NOT expect the phone to be answered.

I have an email purporting to be from Louis Vuitton Online listing handbags, face masks (really) and stuff at nearly 10% of what they quote as full prices.

I wonder who might fall for this. Should they be refunded, even if they receive anything ? Not in my view.

I have Bullguard anti virus programme on my PC. It was due for renewal so I looked around various options on line and I actually found a Bullguard 2 year offer that seemed best. I paid for it and waited for their normal acceptance which never came. I contacted Bullguard but they knew nothing about it. The scammers had, it seems, copied the original Bullguard webpage.

Audrey says:
30 August 2021

What about the electronic calls saying your Bank Account has had large amounts taken, and inviting you to press a button for help. I ignore these as I assume, and hope, that my Bank would be in touch with me themselves if untoward activity was taking place.