Five sure-fire signs that you are entering a scam

Holly Thomas / 19 February 2016

Keep your money safe and avoid scams and fraud with our guide to five warning signs that an offer or deal could be a scam.

Scams are big business for conmen, and sadly are around every corner with criminals becoming more sophisticated every day.

The people behind these sorts of mass marketed scams are constantly coming up with new ways to target us – whether it's by post, email, or now text– but two key points never change. They're only after your money.

Five top scams in the UK.

It’s your job to stay one step ahead of them to avoid falling victim and being stung for your hard-earned cash.

Here we arm you with five sure-fire signs that a scam is on the horizon and alarm bells should be ringing:

1. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar

If you are approached via email or post, look out for spelling and grammar mistakes. That’s not to say mistakes don’t happen but in the main, a professional and genuine outfit will never send correspondence with obvious errors in.

The tone of the letter or email is also relevant. Those who address you as 'Dear Client' or 'valued customer' should be regarded as high risk.

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2. Being rushed to make a decision

A time limit on an offer or request for details should also raise questions. 

Conmen will often try to hurry your decision making, so make sure you take your time to consider if it’s a genuine email. A con artist will try to pressurize you into making a speedy decision so that you do not “miss out”. Any genuine offer would allow you plenty of time to make an informed decision.

Six signs that an email is a scam.

3. An unbelievably good deal

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This age old mantra will stand you in good stead for avoiding rip-off schemes. 

Most mass-marketed scams seem to offer something that sounds attractive, but in reality they don’t exist. They're mostly quite plausible – but there's always a catch – the premium number you have to call to claim your prize, or the up-front payment to secure the best deal.

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4. Trust your memory

If you are told you have won a prize in a competition you don't remember entering then it’s probably because you didn’t. 

Companies rely on people assuming they have forgotten and seek to get them to hand over cash to “release” their prize or to call expensive premium rate telephone numbers which end in nothing but a big fat phone bill.

Equally, if you get unsolicited mail from a company claiming to know you, but you don’t remember dealing with them – trust your instinct. Conmen take great pains to convince you they've dealt with you before to win your trust. 

Scammers sell or trade lists of names and addresses, which is why so many people get bombarded with scams if they fall for just one.

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5. Asking for cash or your personal information

 If you are asked to part with cash or personal details or passwords – DON’T! 

Never give any money upfront, or your account details. No decent business proposition will require money upfront. 

An investment, of course, will require a sum to be paid, but this is only at the final stage when you have completed all your checks.

No bank or financial services institution with proper safety standards in place will ever ask for your full account or password details.

For more useful tips and information, browse our money articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.