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UK European Consumer Centre

Picture of a stop sign with scam alert insideExamples of scams

Below you will find a list and explanation of all the current scams we know about.  Hopefully this information may just stop you entering into something you don't want to. 

Continuous payment - Subscriptions

You find a free trial online or via mail order and decide to give the product a try.  To qualify you will have to pay for the shipping, usually something small like £5.  Once you have entered your card details the order is confirmed.  There is no immediate mention of further charges when you place the order.  You receive the product within a few weeks but within a month you may notice a further payment on your account sometimes into the £000's.  When you query this with the company they tell you it is in the terms and conditions.

Timeshare Resale 

You have a timeshare that you no longer want and receive an unsolicited call from a company claiming to have a buyer for your week/points. They may at this stage ask you for money up front or they may ask you if you want to go ahead with the sale.  If they ask for money up front it could be for the Administration of the sale or so called 'local taxes' that have to be paid up front.  If you query this you may be told it can't be taken from the balance.  There is rarely a buyer and you may not hear from the company again.......unless they want more money!

You could also be told that linked in with the sale they may be able to get you some money back through their legal team if you were missold the timeshare in the first place.  They may claim to have a court case pending or complete with money waiting.  Usual tactics of money upfront will be requested.  

Remember!  Just because they don't ask for money up front doesn't mean they won't ask for it later on! 

Timeshare Disposal 

You have a timeshare that you no longer want or can afford and receive an unsolicited call from a company claiming to be able to free you of the responsibilities of the yearly payments. They may at this stage ask you for money up front or they may offer to get you out to a tourist destination to discuss this with a rep.  Either way you may end up paying £0000's sometimes walking away with a different type of product.  There is also no guarantee that your old timeshare is taken away

Remember!  If you want to get out of a timeshare first consult the terms and conditions and see if it has an end date.  If it doesn't then you should contact the timeshare provider and ask them if it is possible for them to take it back.  Sometimes they may but for a fee. 

Mail Order Prize Awards 

An official looking envelope greets you on the door mat saying that you have won a nice amount of money.  All you need to do to start the claim is complete the form and make a small order from their catalogue.  You make the order and receive the goods but there is another order that needs to be placed.  This can continue for a while before you realise you have not won the money or prize.  The terms and conditions in very small print explain that this is a draw and that you may not win the top prize.  Sometimes you can win something that is only £00's in value making the money you have spent out far more. 

Vehicle Escrow Scams

You've found the car of your dreams online and what's more, it's cheaper than you expected! It may be a UK registered car but the seller claims to have taken it out of the UK for whatever reason.  The seller may offer to refer the sale to an independent 'middleman' (this is known as escrow) company that will only pass on your money to the seller when you are 100% happy with the car. The catch here is that the independent escrow company doesn't exist and you are left out of pocket without ever seeing the car.

Winning a 'free' holiday

You may get an unsolicited phone call at home or a scratch card is thrust into your hand as you're enjoying a holiday abroad and you're told you've won a free holiday.

To get the 'free' holiday you are told you have won, you have to go to a short presentation about a holiday club that ends up being a long day of hard sell.  Here they can provide wrong information about what you will receive, leave you without food and even provide alcohol to let your guard down.

The problem is that if you sign the contracts just so you can leave you may well not have a right to cancel!  Not all contracts are covered with a cooling off period so if you don't want it don't sign it! 

Sold Out Events - Secondary Ticket Sellers

You are looking for tickets for a major sporting event or a popular artists concert.  The event sold out within minutes on the official sellers website but you notice plenty of tickets available on other websites.  How can this be possible?  Secondary ticket sellers buy up tickets for the events and then sell them for inflated prices.  Sometimes they could be overselling so you may not end up with a ticket to the event.  It is buyer beware when purchasing tickets for sold out events as they are usually sold out for a reason.

Remember!  It is illegal for any company to sell tickets to a football match in the UK without the prior authorisation of the event organiser