SWINDON Borough Council’s excellent trading standards team have been hard at work alerting people to some of the latest online and telephone scams.

Scammers, it seems, are becoming steadily more devious and their pitches more convincing.

While I can’t claim to be as knowledgeable as the experts, I have a few simple tips of my own for anybody wondering whether they are in touch with a crook.

For example, we should all remember that our bank will never call us or send an email asking for details such as PINs and other security information.

Another common tactic is for scammers to get in touch, pretend to be from our bank and claim there has been suspicious activity involving our account.

Our best bet in these circumstances is to call our bank on another line, using the emergency number on the back of our card.

We should bear in mind that although banks do sometimes get in touch with alerts, it’s far more common for them not to spot fraudulent activity until we notice that every penny has been drained from our account and phone them to ask why.

We should bear in mind, also, that in these circumstances our bank will often move heaven and earth - including hiring the best and most merciless legal counsel - in its attempts to claim the fraud was all our fault and avoid paying us so much as a penny.

Another increasingly common tactic among scammers is to call and claim to be from the Inland Revenue, and to insist that we are behind in our taxes and must pay a load of dosh immediately or be sent to prison.

The fact that they tend to demand payment in iTunes codes or something similar is generally all the clue we need that something doesn’t add up, but we should also bear in mind that the Inland Revenue has no need to call us up and demand payment in threatening terms.

That’s because the Inland Revenue has the power to open our bank accounts and help itself. Should it turn out that we don’t actually owe any money, and that the discrepancy was down to some unsackable halfwit being unable to add up, we’ll still have to jump through hoops to get our cash back.

Oh, and if we happen to be an enormous corporation, the Revenue will not demand anything at all from us. Rather, it will gratefully accept whatever meagre scraps we choose to throw, much in the way an abused dog will sometimes lick the boot that kicks it.

Scammers also sometimes pretend to be from TV Licensing, and try to trick us into clicking on phishing sites by pretending our licence payments haven’t gone through.

It is important to remember that the real TV Licensing does not do this.

Rather, it simply compares a big list of addresses with a big list of addresses where TV licenses are held, and sends threatening letters to anybody who doesn’t appear on both lists.

These letters do not always achieve the desired effect, as more and more of us move to subscription services which don’t require licenses. Having said that, some people, notably those aged over 75, are less likely to have the technological knowledge to use such services.

Some scammers apparently call up potential victims and ask them to shift their pension pots into bogus schemes which can end up leaving them thousands of pounds worse off.

The best advice in this instance is simply to refuse to make a decision on the day, seek sound advice and act accordingly. This should save you from harm.

Of course, if some amoral billionaire robber baron decides to gain access to your pension fund and drain it legally, you’re up the creek without the proverbial.