Scams are schemes which try to get you to part with your money or personal information by deceiving you, without providing anything of value in return. Scammers have one purpose and one purpose alone and that is to defraud you.
What is a scam?
Scams can cover any trade and take many forms. The scammers might try to offer you all sorts of things from miracle cures to get rich quick schemes. Scams can be initiated by emails, telephone calls or even a knock at the door. Scammers will pretend to be your friend, or sometimes threaten you with legal action.
The scammers may try to get you to sign up to a contract for something you don't need and have no use for or they might simply try to steal your bank details so that they can access your account.
What can the effect of scams be?
Scams can be extremely damaging to their victims. Of course there's the financial damage and people can even lose tens of thousands of pounds. Some people can also end up borrowing money from friends and family to pay the scammers and then feel guilty when they can't pay them back.
Unfortunately it is very rare to get your money back after you've been scammed but Trading Standards can advise you on how to avoid scammers and scams in the first place.
Sometimes, people who've been scammed don't report it because they're too embarrassed, but this only encourages the scammers because they think they can get away with it. Trading Standards offers impartial, confidential advice so you can report scams by emailing, calling or writing to us, or you can visit us in person (please see contact details at the bottom of the page). Although it is unlikely that we can help in individual cases, the records and instances of scams we collect, can be reported to certain UK bodies, who monitor the issues at a national and international level and can help them to assess trends and target their resources.
How can you protect yourself from scams?
· Stop and think! Take advice from informed relatives and friends that you've known for some time. Scammers know that if you have time to think you would probably recognise a scam, so don't get pushed into making a decision quickly.
· If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! For example you cannot win a lottery if you have not bought a ticket for it!
· Talk to family and friends. Don't hide from friends or family the fact that you've paid out money, even if the person you're dealing with says you should. Many people can get sucked into spending thousands of pounds because they don't feel they can tell their family what's happening but this just plays into the scammers' hands.
Nine key steps to avoid being scammed.
Before parting with money or personal information, stop and think:
1. Did they contact you out of the blue?
2. Does it seem too good to be true?
3. If it happened to your friend would you tell them it was a scam?
4. Take time and seek advice. Offering a 'special price' that's only available for a limited time is a favourite trick of scammers designed to stop you from properly considering an offer. Even if it seems like an amazing offer you should always take the time to think about it and get advice.
5. Do you have to pay for a prize or 'free' gift?
6. Do you have to ring a premium rate number? (one starting with '09')
7. Is the business reluctant to give you its address or contact details?
8. Are you being asked to keep the offer confidential?
9. Be sceptical - especially before signing anything or handing over any money.
And finally, if you have any queries, questions or think you may have been contacted by a scammer contact Trading Standards using the details provided in the box below.
Trading Standards ServiceTrading Standards Service Guernsey, Raymond Falla House, PO Box 459, Longue Rue, St Martins, GY1 6AF, Guernsey
Tel: +44 1481 234567 Fax: +44 1481 235015