The Office of Fair Trading estimates each year 3.2 million adults in the UK fall victim to a scam involving deceptive mailings, phone calls or e-mails. Scams cost the UK consumer £3.5 billion per annum.
Behind these figures lie often heartbreaking tales about people being robbed of their entire life savings, while being too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. These pages tell you how you can protect yourself from becoming the victim of a scam, how scams work and what you should do if you suspect a scam or have fallen victim to one.
Stop Junk Mail does not give personal advise about what to do if you or someone you know is being conned. Scams are not 'junk mail as we know it'. Junk mail is annoying and wasteful but sending people unsolicited advertisements is usually not a criminal offense. Scams, on the other hand, are illegal. The people sending scams are not 'marketeers'; they're criminals (and of the lowest type, I would add). In short, I can't give you professional or legal advice about dealing with scams. Luckily, there are organisations that can:
- Consumer Direct is a government funded advice service. Although Consumer Direct has lost its website in the government's bonfire of the quangos the service does still exist. The Consumer Direct helpline can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06.
- Direct.gov now includes some of the information that could be found on the Consumer Direct website. Unfortunately, direct.gov doesn't have a helpline (in fact, they can't be contacted at all).
- Think Jessica is a campaign group and advice service run by Marilyn Baldwin. The campaign is named after Marilyn's mother, who became a chronic scam mail victim after entering a Readers Digest competition.