/ Money

Announcing our new scam alert service

Fraud has become one of the most prevalent crimes in the UK. Here’s how we’re looking to help the public keep ahead of the criminals behind common scams.

I’m delighted to announce that Which? has launched a free scam alert service, designed to deliver the latest warnings directly to as many people as possible.

Whether it’s phishing, smishing, fake websites or cold calls, we’ve seen it all over the years.

These types of scams have become so prevalent in the UK that as much as £1.2 billion was lost to scammers in 2019 alone.

Now the coronavirus pandemic has created the perfect storm for these scams to thrive. Fraudsters have been using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability, so it’s never been more important to stay one step ahead as new scams spring up daily.

Register to receive our scam alerts here:


 

Register for scam alerts on our site directly here

Real scam examples

It’s clear that if you keep up to date with the latest tactics scammers are using and see real life examples, you’ll be at an advantage.

On Which? Conversation, we know this better than anyone. We’ve been publishing these warnings for years, helping to keep people up to date.

Back in October, we shared Craig’s experience of an Amazon Prime scam call. In the months that followed, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Which? Conversation to both report, and be warned of, exactly the same scam.

The article has now had more than 1,000 comments; it’s one of the many hugely popular scam warnings here on the site that we encourage the public to share with their friends and family to help keep them informed.

The new service will describe scams like this and, where possible, show real examples seen by the experts here at Which?, as well as members of the public who report them to us.

How our scam service works

Our new service is free and available to anyone.

Those who sign up will receive warnings about the latest scams as we uncover them, along with the extra information you’ve come to expect, such as:

How to spot a scam

How to get your money back after a scam

How to report a scam

Experts and teams from across Which?, such as the magazine and Which? News will be contributing to the alerts, helping to protect people and prevent them from falling victim.

Got a scam to report to us? Spotted fraudsters using new tactics in phishing emails or over the phone?

Let us know in the comments and we’ll investigate.

Comments

I also recommend people sign up for Neighbourhood Alert
https://www.neighbourhoodalert.co.uk/

You then receive regular emails from the police and Neighbourhood Watch notifying you of the latest crimes and scams, and also those that apply to your area. They also provide a lot of useful information on crime prevention, personal safety, computer safety, missing persons, etc.

This is a great idea as I’ve found sometimes there are waves of when you receive spam emails so will sign up for this. Will there be another way of sharing spam emails with Which? as we receive them?

This is a good initiative and should help to reduce the impact of scamming which is not just causing financial loss but giving rise to distress and anxiety among vulnerable people. Not all the perpetrators are aliens; it’s an unfortunate fact that many will have been born and bred here in the UK and have no compunction over causing mental and financial ruin to honest, decent, hardworking citizens who have saved up some money for the later years and find it has been siphoned out of their accounts by some disreputable low-life who will probably never be caught or brought to justice. Every scam that Which? can stop in its tracks through publicity and guidance will help to beat these callous criminals who have no shame but for whom there is no shame great enough to assuage their guilt.

You are absolutely right, to be blunt I these scammers are beneath contempt, and are nothing but low-life scumbags, no better than a rat rubbing along in a sewer, in fact, a rat has more class and dignity. Changing the subject slightly, when I was an 8-year-old girl in primary school back in the early 1980’s, me and the rest of the children in my year were shown a 1971 British Public Information Film, about ‘Stranger Danger,’ you can see the same one on You Tube. In my opinion there should be similar public information films warning the general population against Online Scams, as it’s not just innocent children who can be tricked, even if not for the same reasons.

One more thing, how do these hackers/scammers get hold of our information, are they just ‘chancers’ taking a random guess, or whenever we visit a site, even something like eBay, is an illegal or dangerous source ‘piggybacking,’ on what we’re looking at. Or are companies who we trust selling our data for a fee to unscrupulous sources?

We are on the circulation for a frequent update from Norfolk County Council about scams and rogue traders. It includes scams that operate nationally or internationally but also reports local scams and fraudulent activity in local areas or across the county. I shall probably not be taking the Which? feed because it would duplicate the Norfolk CC information and not give the local news which can often be at postcode or parish level.

I shall be looking into Neighbourhood Alert as suggested by Alfa. To be forwarned is to be forearmed.

It does amaze me, though, that despite the attention given over the years to scams and frauds, so many people end up being taken for a ride on money schemes, letting strangers into their home who steal their purse, and allowing unknown traders to rip them off with repairs to the roof. Much more information and education are still required.

jean wilson says:
23 April 2020

new ipad Saturday. Relative set it up.Wednesday I received email from “Apple Store” . An invoice for £43.
“If not you click and enter your Apple I.D.
Consulted relative and deleted it.
That is all you need when coping with a new device. How did they get my email address?

bernard.lewis says:
25 April 2020

THIS SITE HELPS YOU STAY ALERT AND BECOME MORE AWARE OF POTENTIAL SCAMS….ALTHOUGH IN MY OPINION , JUST REPLACE THE RECEIVER OR DELETE E.MAILS . i FIND THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO GET RID…HOW DO I KNOW THIS ISN’T A SCAM IN ORDER TO OBTAIN FURTHER INFORMATION ??

“Avon Cosmetics” seem to have got hold of me.
Just over a month ago, I received this text from +447483904361:

Online only is available. Reply with your name for earning info.
Existing reps please dont reply.18+only.Reply STOP to optout

Today I received this text from +447483455042:

In lockdown and want to earn extra cash? Avon is now FULLY ONLINE, FREE to do and paid weekly. Reply with your name for info. 18+only. Text STOP to opt out.

I am treating these as scams and ignoring them. Why would Avon need reps if they are now fully online?

But, if they are real, any earnings are going to be miniscule. As a teenager, a relative gave me Avon products for birthdays and Xmas that I was allergic to and I haven’t touched them since.

Ian says:
12 May 2020

Unless this new service is warning people about multiple dozens of new scams every day, it isn’t even scratching the surface.

Rather than (or in addition to) advising Which? of scams, advise ActionFraud as these are entered into a police database.

As well as reporting existing scams, maybe we should try educating people in how to spot and avoid scams in a general way. New scams will always claim victims before we have caught up with, and reported them.

I’m wondering if something on the lines of a simple flowchart would help? Most the attempts I’ve seen to warn folks about scams fail because they rarely, if ever, talk in absolutes. “Probably” and “maybe” don’t work well, since social media these days does talk in absolutes, often utterly wrong and misleading absolutes but absolutes nonetheless.

A flowchart is visually appealing, simple to use and right to the point. I’d be happy to take a crack at one, with Alfa’s help to put it into a diagrammatic form.

Yes, I’m aware of what Which? does but it has a limited audience. We need reach a much wider audience. TV would seem to be the best medium to do this. However the material needs presenting in a well thought through way to ensure the content and presentation is both understanding and appealing.

I have suggested that it would be useful if Which? had a presence on TV to raise awareness of consumer issues, beyond what Watchdog does when the series is being broadcast. It would cost the BBC less than paying for TV shows featuring celebrities. I’m suggesting that appearing on TV could be a source of revenue for Which? rather than an expense and it might increase the number of members.

Hasn’t the BBC’s flagship consumer strand Watchdog gone off watch now and been given a run on the Unnecessary Show at 7:00 pm on Wednesdays?

I have a passing interest in consumer affairs but would rarely watch Watchdog [only if there was likely to be something interesting on]; I am even less likely to watch such third-rate drivel in its new kennel surrounded by mongrels and misfits.

What Which? needs is its own TV channel funded by advertising or sponsorship from companies like CPCW, Amazon, VW, Whirlpool, and other consumer culprits.

A certain Mrs Robinson was responsible for ensuring that I stopped watching Watchdog. If I hear of an interesting topic I sometimes watch it on iPlayer.

It would be interesting to know what percentage of the population has never fallen for a scam. I don’t believe I have ever parted with money as a result of an unsolicited phone call or email. I may have lost out on some genuine bargains but that’s a small price to pay.

Scams are costing consumers a great deal of money and I appreciate the efforts of Which? Most people associate Which? with product testing but it does a great deal more.

George: I agree the three Which? sites are full of interesting information. I don’t want you to think I’m being overly critical about your work in creating the wealth of helpful stuff on scams. But they do, in fact duplicate points, and the total word count exceeds 2750 words.

I don’t find them quick and easy to read, and that’s for a number of reasons. For example, let’s look at the scam email page.

The banner header is enticing, with “How to spot an email scam” in gigantic font size, then “Use our top 10 tips to safeguard yourself”. Which is great.

Then not so much. The “In this guide” section takes a fair bit of space and, while I recognise they’re all linked for speedy access, not everyone is au fait with hyperlinking.

Then there’s an ad, urging us to “Sign up for a Which? Scam alert to get what you need to know about the latest scams,”.

Okay; now I’m getting a little impatient. I want to see the promised top ten tips. But the next obstacle to surmount is a large, orange rectangle about a sextortion scam.

Well, I assure myself, the top ten tips must be next. But they’re not. The next is a paragraph about Email scam awareness. Guys—by this time I’m feeling a bit like a marathon runner that keeps seeing signs promising drinks in the next fifty yards, but they’re not there.

Then there’s a bit on Action Fraud, a widely discredited organisation from what most are saying. Never mind; top ten tips must be coming soon.

Gosh, no. Instead it’s an image of a BT cyber breach letter scam.

In short, there are more than 400 words and three images after the promise of the top ten tips before the reader finally gets to see them.

What I’m saying is that it needs greatly simplifying and made far punchier.
But there’s another issue: are there common aspects to all scams? Because I suspect there are and by not flagging those common aspects W? might be missing a trick.

Just off the top of my head, without brainstorming I suspect these might be common to most scams:

1. Contact out of the blue.
2. Unexpected contact.
3. Unusual contact.

They’re certainly things folk should be wary about.

4. Request / demand / require / transfer money
5. Follow a hyperlink in an email.

I appreciate you tell folk about this, but I don’t believe that how you say it is sufficiently strong. The time when we could safely follow links in emails is long gone. Hyperlinks in emails should be regarded in the same light as an apple in a supermarket that’s had someone coughing and sneezing over it.

I’m not denigrating the efforts you’re all putting in, but I suspect I’m not alone in believing it could be even better. Anyhow, that took a bit of time, so I now need a whiskey.

Mike Walker says:
18 July 2020

I have had 3 emails from Dutch sounding names ,all using the same “come on”.You are invited to open boxes to reveal prizes ( the 3rd always wins!)
I tried forwarding them to info.mail.co.uk but ,not surprisingly ,my emails were all blocked by ny server(Virgin) , citing dangerous attachments.
I presume you have all seen these which were almost identical in format and concerned prize offers purporting to come from : –
Aldi,Morrisons and Sainsbury’s

TINA BEVAN says:
21 September 2020

Received a phone call claiming to be from HM revenue and customs saying I had been a victim of fraud. I knew it was fake, it was an automated call for a start and they used my reserve emergency phone number. The number they called on was 02037608708. I’ve had a spate of dodgy/cold calls my private line lately, I’ve no idea how they got that number.

Frank Jones says:
6 October 2020

Frandjac
Further to my last comment (given here), that what I thought was a scam. The company “GENMAR Ltd,.” has been in touch again. They say their internet address is “cesenergy.com”, not “. . . . co.uk”. (their error).
Therefore I with draw my opinion I was wrong, I fully apologise to the company, and regret for aledging they were a scam.

Hi Frank,
I am going to reply to your post under your original post here as there appears to be more to this and I think you need to be very careful.

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