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Email and referral service scams

Members have told us about suspicious emails or cold calls which could be scams. Here are three to look out for.

Payment in advance scam

You might receive an enquiry from someone who says they are seeking therapy and wish to pay for a series of sessions in advance.

They often say they want to pay in advance because they are based overseas and will be visiting the UK. They may say that they want to send money in advance because someone else is paying for their therapy or that and they wish to pay for therapy for someone else – a son or daughter, for example.

The advance fee arrives but for a larger amount than agreed. The individual apologises for the ‘mistake’ and asks for the excess amount to be returned. But the payment is a forgery and the cheque or bankers draft eventually bounces.

This is a classic overpayment fraud. Bank drafts take a lot longer to clear than people realise. Even cheques drawn on UK banks may be returned unpaid after your bank has made the funds available to you.

Email phishing

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals send an email that appears to be from a legitimate company and ask you to provide sensitive information.

This is usually done by including a link that will appear to take you to the company’s website to fill in your information – but the website is a clever fake and the information you provide goes straight to the crooks behind the scam.

For example, we’re receiving quite a few fake emails about TV licencing.

The best protection against this fraud is never to click on a link in an email, even if it appears to come from a company you use. Use your own link or bookmark for the site or use a search engine to find the correct site.

If you use the company, you may already have a bookmark for the website you can use, if not, use a search engine and type in the company’s name, then use the link from your search engine to go to the correct site. If the email is legitimate, you will see the same information when you log into your account on the legitimate site.

Referral services

Some members have received calls offering a service which, they say, will help you gain more referrals. This service is provided for a fee.

We would advise members to be aware of such services and not to commit to anything that they have not thoroughly considered and researched.

If you receive such a call, we suggest:

  • Don’t agree to anything over the telephone unless you are absolutely happy with who you are dealing with and what you are being offered.
  • Insist on seeing written details and a copy of the company’s full terms and conditions before registering.
  • Always find out who you are speaking to. By law, any callers should identify themselves and the company from which they are calling.
  • Be particularly wary if the initial caller transfers you to someone else during the call and always ask the next person you speak to for his/her name, the name of the company, in which department he/she works and his/her contact number.

If the person you are speaking to cannot, or will not, provide these details, or if he/she becomes abusive, end the call straight away.

Reporting fraud or a scam

If you’ve been targeted by a scam, or are the victim of fraud, go to the Action Fraud website for information and advice.

If you have been misled into buying a service or felt pressured into buying something you didn’t want, you could also contact your local trading standards.

If you do not wish to receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls, you should register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) which operates a central opt out register covering everybody from individuals to companies. It is a legal requirement that companies do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS. This service is free of charge. For further information visit the Telephone Preference Service website.

Alerting other members

If you are the recipient of scam emails or phone calls targeted at your therapy business, do let us know so that we can alert other members.