Whether you are contacted by a genuine salesperson or a fraudster, they may both have got your name and personal details in a similar way. There are many companies and other organisations (including councils) that collect and sell information about you. Stopping information about you being collected or sold will reduce calls from genuine sales people and fraudsters.
- Avoid filling in marketing surveys or questionnaires. Junk/scam mailers buy this information to send unwanted post, junk e-mails and make telephone calls. Some traders might even use the information to make doorstep visits.
- If you receive junk mail with a return address on the envelope, write 'unsolicited mail, please return to sender' on the envelope and put it back in the post unstamped. This may disrupt their activities and increase their costs. Do not respond to such letters in any other way.
- Remove your name and address from www.192.com. Use form: 'C01 record correction form' available from their website. 192.com is one of the principal UK directories used by companies to get names, addresses and telephone numbers.
- Register regularly with the Mailing Preference Service (free of charge) and there is a similar free scheme for unwanted telephone calls - Telephone Preference Service or phone 0845 070 0707.
- When you fill out your annual electoral registration form, choose for your details NOT to be added to the 'Edited Electoral Register' (sold for marketing purposes). Read the registration form carefully and tick the box to ensure that your details will appear on the 'Full Register' only (used for elections, crime prevention and credit checks). Contact your local elections office.
- Whenever you give your name, address or e-mail to an organisation, for instance when you buy a product or service, always tick the opt out boxes to say that you don't want any further information about 'other products and services' and you don't want your details shared with 'carefully selected' third parties.
- If you want to stop unaddressed mail, opt out of Royal Mail's door to door service. However, doing so may prevent you from receiving important mail from the Government.
- Screen your phone calls using a suitable device such as an answer phone. Avoiding answering unwanted phone calls may reduce the number you receive.
- Use junk/spam e-mail filters on your PC to reduce the number of junk e-mails you receive.
- Put a 'no junk mail' sign on your letterbox.
- Don't respond to any unwanted letters, e-mails or telephone calls. You will only encourage them (and others that they share your information with), to send more.
- If you are visited - our advice is never to deal with cold callers as this is the favoured approach used by rogue traders who only want to get as much money from their victims as possible. If anyone comes to your home unexpectedly offering good or services, say no, or better still don't open the door.
Callers can always drop information through your door and you can then make a reasoned decision without feeling under pressure to buy. And finally - NEVER send any money to anyone who contacts you out of the blue and don't agree to transfer money using money transfer services such as UKASH or Western Union, both of which are untraceable.
Make a complaint
The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or 0208 1850 710 (English language).
If you have been a victim of fraud, ensure your bank is aware. You could also report the fraud to your local Police and to Action Fraud.