As if the taxman and MPs weren’t enough there are always the scammers that are after your money. At this time of year it can be easy for the scammers to fool the vulnerable (and perhaps the not so vulnerable) into parting with their hard earned cash.

Trading Standards (TS) and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) have backed the ‘Think Jessica’ campaign aimed at bringing awareness of postal scams to peoples’ attention. It is aimed at the recipients of scams where people are asked to send money to claim fake prizes. It is hoped that places where people withdraw the money to send to these scammers such as Post Offices, banks and building societies will also participate by displaying the ‘Think Jessica’ posters.

Apart from this there are also the usual Internet phishing and marketing scams.

But another type of scam may re-surface. This is where you receive a card through the letterbox from a company that claims there is a parcel waiting for you at their depot. They then quote a premium-rate ‘phone number that, unknown to you, racks up a huge phone bill while you hang on at the other end.

This was going on up until about 2005 and there is still an E-Mail circulating warning people not to respond to the card quoting the number as 0906 6611911. But according to thisimoney.co.uk this particular bunch of fraudsters was shut down in 2005 and that number no longer works (but please don’t try it yourself!).

However, If you receive a delivery card through your letterbox which you do not believe is genuine and which asks you to dial a premium rate number, you can contact PhonepayPlus on 0800 500 212 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm) for further guidance or go to phonepayplus.org.uk for useful information about how to recognise phone-paid services and understand what they cost.

As a quick guide, at the date of this article, the costs for 09 numbers according to PhonepayPlus are:

0900/ 0901 – Call cost up to 60p per minute with a maximum call cost of £5.00; or fixed cost up to £1.00p per call.

0904 – Open-ended at any cost per minute; or fixed cost per call at any rate.

0905 – Open-ended at any cost per minute; or fixed cost per call at any rate.

09059 – Live multi-party chat services costing up to 60p per minute.

0906 – Open-ended at £1.50p per minute.

0907 – Pay-for-product services costing more than £1.00p.

0908/ 0909/ 098 – Adult services at any rate, ranging from 10p to £1.50p.

091 -Open-ended at any cost per minute; or fixed cost per call at any rate.

The codes 0902 and 0903 have not been allocated at present and will be reserved for increased demand or new services.

If you are not expecting a parcel and the card quotes a premium rate number view it with great suspicion. And should you know of a person who may be vulnerable to this, or any other, sort of fraud, please let them know.

Lastly, don’t forget in general for all scams that ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly is’.

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