Scams affect one in ten people in the UK

More than 4 million British adults, or one in eleven, has responded to a scam at some point in their life with a third of those respondents losing money, according to a new report by the Office of Fair Trading.

The research is part of the watchdog’s Scams Awareness Month and consumers are being asked to hand in letters they have received as part of money-making scams as the government aims to raise awareness of these cons.

The OFT said that consumers are being targeted by email, text message, letter and on social networking sites. ”Scammers are using ever more sophisticated and cunning tactics to dupe people out of their cash,” said John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT. “We want people to recognise the warning signs, and feel confident enough to seek advice from friends and family or from Consumer Direct.”

Research by the OFT found that around half of those who fell prey to scams lost more than £50, while 5 per cent lost more than £5,000. It also revealed that almost three in four adults had been approached by scammers on email in the past year, while one in five had been approached by letter and one in ten by text message.

This comes as HMRC has revealed that the past couple of weeks have seen tens of thousands of fraudulent emails sent out linked to the tax return deadline with recipients being told they are due a tax refund and asking them to fill in an online form with bank or credit card details.

The Revenue is warning taxpayers not to respond to the “phishing” emails as it informas customers of a refund by post only.

The OFT’s top tips for avoiding fraud:

* If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.

* Never send money to anyone who says you’ve won a lottery or big prize – you’ll never see any winnings.

* Don’t be rushed into sending off money by time-sensitive deadlines.

* Never ring an 090 number unless you know how much the call will cost and what you will receive.

* Never disclose bank account, credit card or personal details to people you don’t know.

* Don’t send money because a letter seems official.

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