Lincolnshire County Council Trading Standards Service is warning consumers to be wary of growing problem of scam mail.

Every year 3.2 million adults in the UK fall victim to a scam involving deceptive and unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails.

The most common scam mailings in the UK are:

Deceptive sweepstakes and Prize Draws:are official looking letters or emails notifying you that you have won a large cash prize. To claim you must often send a fee for “processing” or “administration”. Alternatively the notification may be accompanied by a catalogue and it is implied that you must place an order to receive the prize. The rules, which often appear in very faint small print that is difficult to read, explain that you are only being offered the opportunity to enter and that the chances of winning are very small.

Bogus Foreign Lotteries:are letters or emails sent out advising you that you have won a major cash prize in an overseas lottery. They often use the name of the official lottery in the country of origin to make them more credible. If you respond you will be asked to contact a sales agent who will ask for money to cover administration, customs and taxes. The winnings are never received.

Miracle Health Cures: are letters or emails offering products that will supposedly cure a range of ailments including obesity, heart disease, cancer and impotency. They may also promise easy weight loss without the need for a healthy diet or exercise. The claims are often supported by fake testimonials from satisfied customers. The products are unlikely to have been tested properly and the claims not proven. Some may have adverse affects.

Clairvoyants or Psychics:promise predictions that will change your life and bring good fortune for a small, sometimes monthly fee. However they may be aggressive in tone predicting bad luck if you do not send money or purchase a lucky charm. Although they are sent out in their millions they are often personalised to make it look as if you have been specifically chosen.

Phishing:is the term given to the letters or emails designed with the intention of getting you to hand over your personal information or bank details. The scam is often takes the form of an email from a bank or other business likely to hold your financial details such as eBay or PayPal. The email will include a link to another site where you are asked to fill out your personal or financial details. These sites closely resemble the genuine company’s website.

If you are unfortunate enough to have sent money to a scammer your details may be added to a so called “sucker” list. These lists are sold between the scammers and can result in hundreds of other letters being sent to you.

Tara Carter, Fair Trading Officer at Lincolnshire Trading Standards has the following advice for anyone receiving suspicious mail:

“Beware the tricks of the trade. The scammers will try and catch you unawares whether by phone, email or post. They will ask you for money or your personal or financial details upfront. They will rush you into making a decision or offer you something for nothing.”

“People who fall victim are not foolish, the scammers are clever and sophisticated. They use professional or official looking documents and they know how to make you part with your money. Remember anyone can be targeted.”

“If you have any doubts stop, think and think again. Don’t be rushed into sending money or information to someone you don’t know. How likely is it that you have been especially chosen? Remember there are probably thousands of people receiving the same offer.”

“Register your address with the Mail Preference Service and your telephone number with the Telephone Preference Service to stop unwanted mail and calls. This service is free of charge.”

“Finally get advice. If you are unsure speak to family, friends or neighbours or seek advice over the phone or on-line from Consumer Direct. Visit or call 08454 04 05 06.”