New warning over scam mail

Nearly 750,000 pieces of scam mail have been prevented from entering the UK postal system in the last three months

The National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTS Scams Team) has issued a warning about the amount of scam mail being sent to the UK from abroad after preventing nearly 750,000 (749,500) pieces of scam mail – such as fake prize draws and clairvoyant scams – from reaching the letter boxes of households around the country in the last three months*.

National Trading Standards is urging people to look out for their neighbours, relatives and friends and to contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if they suspect that someone they know may be responding to scam mail.

The NTS Scams Team already works with 176 local authorities to support those affected and has trained nearly 4,000 Royal Mail workers in spotting and dealing with mail scams. The team is also working closely with international enforcement partners and air carriers to prevent mail from reaching UK consumers.

Although criminals behind the scams continually redesign their products to try to avoid raising suspicions, consumers should look out for signs such as:

-A foreign return address

-An offer of a big pay out in return for a small purchase or administration fee

-Requests for personal details in order to claim a prize

-A letter claiming you’ve won a lottery that you didn’t enter

-Letters from a psychic or clairvoyant offering their services for a fee

-An offer that seems too good to be true.

Louise Baxter, Team Manager, National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:

“With such large quantities of mail scams arriving into the country from abroad we need everyone to keep their eyes open for these sorts of scams. Our key message here is do not respond!

“We’re continually finding new ways to tackle mass marking scams to help protect victims but we need everyone to be aware of this threat. That includes friends, neighbours and relatives who may notice scam mail in the house as well as banks and support groups who might be able to spot suspicious transactions and behaviour.”

The NTS Scams Team has been working since 2012 to investigate and tackle mass marketing scams, which are often targeted at vulnerable or elderly people in our communities and cause an estimated £5-10 billion of detriment to consumers each year. The team estimates that it has so far saved consumers £29 million.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:

“National Trading Standards and our partners are working hard to stop scam mail reaching the hands of vulnerable people in our communities. However these new figures show that we are facing an uphill struggle.

“I would urge anyone who receives potentially fraudulent mail or who knows someone who might be receiving it to report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”

National Trading Standards is working with consumer protection partners at home, including Citizens Advice, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, to warn consumers about a range of scams during Scams Awareness Month and to help people be #scamaware. More information and materials to help warn consumers locally are available here:


Notes to Editors

* Data collected April – June 2016.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact the press office: / 020 7025 7570

Reporting scams

  • To make Royal Mail aware of potentially fraudulent mail so that they can work with the relevant authorities to investigate and take action please write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail or call us on 03456 113 413 or email
  • Alternatively, you can contact Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06, writing to Citizens Advice consumer service, Post Point 24, Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston super Mare, North Somerset, BS23 1UJ or by completing an online form here:

National Trading Standards

  • National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
  • The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

National Trading Scams Team

  • The National Trading Standards Scams Team works in partnership with other agencies across the country to identify and support victims of mass marketing fraud.