Modern communications have opened up our lives but they've also given fraudsters new ways to peddle their rip-off scams.
Each year three million UK consumers fall victim to mass marketed scams, many of which are circulated via the internet, emails and text messages.
Scams – such as bogus foreign lotteries, fake home working schemes and deceptive prize draws - cost the public around £3.5 billion each year.
Elderly victims are likely to lose nearly twice as much as others and the Office of Fair Trading has launched a Scams Awareness Month to highlight the problem.
Staying alert to these common scam elements will help protect you from getting hooked.
If the answer is YES to any of these questions, it very likely IS a scam.
* an uninvited message or letter from a name or number you don’t recognise?
* tempting you with something for nothing - prizes or an easy way of making money?
* tempting you with something that could change your life for the better?
* asking you to send money up-front or buy something up-front before you get the prize or offer?
* persuasive and rushing you into a quick decision?
* asking you to make expensive phone calls (premium rate numbers start with 090) to get the prize or offer?
* asking for your bank details or other personal information?
* using a PO box for its contact address?
If they are mass marketed scams then many will be delivered in bulk on behalf of the 'scammers' by the UK Telecoms/Postal Networks. These networks make millions each year for delivering these 'bulk marketing campaigns'.
If Ofcom know the warning signs to look out for then why are they allowing 'licensed' UK companies to agree to carry these mass marketed scams on behalf of the crooks?
Additionally, you should always remember:
Always be sceptical
. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
keep your friends close and the regulator in your pocket