More scams to watch out for, including the courier scam

Image by aussiegall on Flickr. Some rights reserved. Last week we featured a scam involving spook caller IDs - crooks seemingly masking their real telephone numbers in a bid to lighten your pockets. Avid Bitterwallet reader Jo has been in touch with similar warnings about three more scams that have affected her family in the past month.

My mum received a call from someone claiming to be Windows and asking to turn on the computer so we could receive a critical update. Little did they know that I recently moved out taking all internet-capable devices with me so that would be impossible. Thankfully my mother clocked on in any case and politely declined and put down the phone. My father also received a similar call - thankfully my parents are luckily quite technology-savvy.

Another variation of the scam was aimed at my boyfriend. I answered the phone to someone claiming to be from his bank and thought it may be regarding a letter we sent to them recently so thought nothing of it. He was out so I asked them to call back later. They actually called his phone number later on and his mother answered; she realised it was a scam when they failed to specify which bank they were from.

They get you by saying "I'm calling from your/the bank" and do some quick talking and you forget to ask which. I didn't even clock that myself but thankfully they now seem to have given up after his mum told them where to shove it.

A more worrying thing happened to my sister's partner last month. He received a letter from a postal company saying a parcel was to be delivered but, being out at the time of delivery, he needed to phone to arrange a re-delivery and mentioned a number. Not being so untrusting or paranoid as to think to Google the number he rang it and later received a phone bill with a £250 charge for the call, as it was listed as a premium rate number.

While we're aware of the first two, the third scam is a new one of us; plenty of companies use home service couriers, and couriers in general don't necessarily have high brand awareness. Most of us would struggle to name more than a handful, so posing as an unknown courier might not arouse suspicion, only curiosity in what the delivery might be.

Despite all of Jo's family being registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), it hasn't done a thing to stop the scam calls; it may be that scam calls are more effective in some instance, because there's an expectation that any calls received must be legitimate. Regardless, no matter how savvy you are, these rapscallions are just as likely to target your parents or other family members, so make sure they know what tricks to expect.


  • Fiyero
    I heard about the courier card scam a long time ago but £250 for 1 phone call isn't possible
  • jaffacake
    The last scam involving parcel delivery is real - the "we missed you" card has an 0905 telephone number on it costing £1.50 per minute. Of course the company strings you along for as long as possible before you suss out that there is really no parcel. To receive a £250 pound bill, though, I think you'd have to be amazingly gullible or have fallen asleep whilst on the phone to them.
  • Ellie
    The postal scam is still going on. I've had a similar instance with the courier, they used the Fedex logo badly printed on cheap card, left no package number reference and it was weird because I'd been in all day. I called the number from the Fedex website rather than the card, they claimed they had no package for my house, looked up the number online and it was full of comments saying it was a scam so I never rang it.
  • maby66
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can you stop the re-circulation of misinformation when it comes to premium rate numbers costing hundreds of pounds. UK based premium rate numbers are tightly regulated by Phonepayplus. UK numbers CANNOT charge you £300 for short calls. The widely reported/forwarded delivery card scam was shut down in 2005 ( If you really want to find out who operates a service and how much the charge is, then you can put the number into the number checker on Phonepayplus' website (
  • mini c.
    Maybe they could put you on hold.
  • kradlum
    The parcel delivery scam was real - in 2005: Of course, it's possible that the scam has been updated, but the email warning about the scam currently doing the rounds still has the same number on it as the 2005 one, so I think it's just an email warning that has a life of its own. In the same week I also got sent warnings about Sainsburys cashback scam - ( a hoax that has been circulating since 2004) and the "postcard from Hallmark" semi-hoax virus warning that had been circulating since February 2008: I wonder what is the longest running hoax scam email on the interwebs?
  • jaffacake
    You're right, mini. In fact i'm sure they keep you waiting for as long as they can get away with. But how desperate for a parcel would you have to be to sit on the phone for Two and Three-quarter hours?
  • James
    Would anyone fall for a call from someone saying they were calling from 'your bank' or 'the bank'?
  • George A.
    Goooooooood afternoon sir, my name is George Agdgdwngo and I am calling from your bank. Unfortunately your bank account needs to be steam cleaned - if you please give me your bank account number and sort code, then I will have the steam cleaners perform this as quickly as possible for you, sir!
  • Tech B.
    I keep getting calls from "Microsoft" or a computer support agency claiming I have viruses on my PC and then getting me to load up my event viewer in order to scare me. Little do they know I have been working as a systems analyst for 10 years. Despite me constantly taking the piss, putting them "on hold", claiming I have 50 computers and they wait whilst I turn them all on, they never get the hint. Last time they called I told them that I only had linux machines and that got rid of them immediately. Now why would these viruses suddenly disappear? One caller was very insulting to me but I laughed at him as he couldn't pronounce the rude words properly. Another I asked for their business address whilst I looked them up on google maps to discover the address was in fact a pub.
  • Phil
    George Agdgdwngo - My sort code is 80-08, my account is 80087335. Awaiting the steam cleaning. Its like being back in school...
  • PB
    All i was thinking while i was reading this is that 'Jo' has a very unlucky family with all these scammers trying to catch all of them out and if I was her sister i'd be asking hubby just what the premium rate service he was really calling to get a bill like that!
  • Pedant
    @PB "a phone bill with a £250 charge for the call, as it was listed as a premium rate number." great minds think alike
  • Tim
    TPS doesn't work any more. If you quote TPS to them they just fob you off with a "you must have ticked a box, agreed to be contacted somewhere, or completed some survey, etc". They refuse to give you their name when you ask so reporting them is fairly useless without details TPS can act on, they won't pass you on to the manager or they pass you to their colleague or their mate in the pub who pretends to be the manager and bullshit you further. Or they just claim they are carrying out a survey and therefore TPS doesn't count (but later without asking say they're just passing you to one of their sales advisers). That's only if it's a rare case of the call being from the UK. Most are international so TPS has no power. And if it's a scammer they don't give a rats about TPS anyway. Caller ID and only answer calls you recognise, and never out of area / international / private / withheld. Really I only ever need to talk to people I know and if a bank or utility company needs to contact me they can write a letter. Or you can get one of those call screener things that does the job for you. I get hardly any calls now, perhaps because I never pick up the phone. Just the occasional period where a noob company pops up doing automated random dialling and calls me 5 times a night. Usually lasts a few months and they bog off again. These at least you can report to the ICO as abuse / persistent silent callers.

What do you think?

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