Frauds and Scams

Telemarketing Frauds

The global rise of telemarketing has produced a corresponding increase in telemarketing fraud. We are all vulnerable to illegal scams via telemarketing (and by fax, e-mail and the post) but the following pointers highlight how you can protect yourself:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Think very carefully before committing yourself to any ‘amazing deals’.
  • There is no such thing as a ‘guaranteed risk-free investment’.
  • Beware of any unsolicited communication where you are asked to supply credit card or bank details.
  • Beware of any unsolicited communication where you are asked to supply user names and passwords for services that you use such as online banking, online shopping, your Internet account, etc.
  • If you receive a message advising that you have won a prize and should telephone a given number (often starting 900 or 0900), be careful! You will find that the telephone call is charged at premium rates and, in the unlikely event that there is actually a prize, it probably will not be anything worth having. In some cases you may even be asked to send a fee to cover postal costs.
  • If you are offered something on a ‘free trial’ basis, always check deadlines for returning the items. If the scam involves obtaining credit card numbers illegally, you could be charged for goods even if you have no (knowingly) supplied any payment information.
  • Think twice before giving information to unknown parties. For example, some fraudsters pretend to be charities (often using names that seem close to real organisations) and ask for bank or credit card details. Other indications of possible fraud include:
  • Being asked for your credit card details to ‘verify that you really are a legitimate company’
  • Being pressured to allow the caller to ‘send a courier around to take your payment’
  • Being told that you ‘must act quickly or lose out on this one-time deal’
  • Being told of ‘a little-known legal loophole’ that will assist you in making a fortune
  • Being told that you are ‘one of just a few special people to receive this offer’
  • Being told that you have purchased the caller’s services previously

What Can You Do?

One of the best ways to reduce the number of unsolicited telephone calls received (and so reduce the risk of fraud) is to register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The TPS was formed in 1995 as a voluntary (self-regulatory) body to enable consumers to opt-out of receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls.

You can subscribe to this scheme if you are an individual – in other words, a private person, a sole trader or (except in Scotland) a partnership. For further information about the TPS or registering on the scheme, see our business advice article about Corporate TPS.

Similar schemes exist for screening unsolicited post, e-mail and faxes. The Mail Preference Service (MPS) is a consumer service sponsored by The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA). The MPS was established to help consumers reduce the amount of non-profit or commercial mail they receive. You can find out more about the MPS at or visit the Direct Marketing Association web site at for further information.

© Crown Copyright. URN 05/623; 01/05

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