Unfortunately scam texts and calls are now part of everyday life.

Most people will have received a text purporting to be from a bank, delivery service or even the government demanding action or a text back.

Some are worryingly convincing and can easily lure you in.

Manchester Evening News readers say they've seen an increase in scam texts and calls - designed to trick the receiver into handing over personal information - during the pandemic.

Robyn Lipiec, posting on Facebook, said: "Every day I get a text from different numbers saying they are Royal Mail, Amazon etc etc and they say that i need to rearrange delivery or a parcel has been unable to be delivered.

"It's very frustrating and would fool some people."

On Facebook, reader Clare Duffy said: "I’ve been getting calls from unknown caller, I just completely ignore.

"However there will be some people who maybe are not aware of these scammers , it’s something that needs to be talked about more on media platforms."

Meanwhile, Mo Bostock said: "I get phone calls saying my National Insurance is being used in fraud.

"I also get ones saying I’ve committed fraud and to press 1 or I will have a warrant out for my arrest .

"Also had calls saying my internet and phone has been hacked and to press one for help.

"I have them regularly and so does my mum and I’m a Carer in the community...my clients are getting the same calls too."

Some of these examples will seem all too familiar for anyone with a mobile phone.

And complaints about such texts and calls have soared in the last year.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom published a report charting the trend of these complaints in March.

The report said that complaints about calls had fallen in 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world.

But scam calls started to surge again toward the end of the year.

Ofcom saw an 83 per cent increase in the number of complaints between October and December 2020 compared with the same months in 2019, while the ICO saw a 27 per cent rise in complaints between September and December 2020.

Greater Manchester Police and Action Fraud UK have launched campaigns to raise awareness of cyber fraud, as well as phone scams.

And companies like Sky and Amazon have produced guides on how customers can protect themselves from telephone, text and email scammers who falsely claim to be working for them. Sky's guide is here and Amazon's is here.

Meanwhile, police in India have been taking action against call centres where scammers try to trick people into handing over personal details by purporting to be from big name firms.

For more advice on the issue, visit Ofcom here.

How to stop cold callers and spammers

Register with The Telephone Preference Service ( TPS )

If you don't want to receive marketing calls, register your home phone and mobile to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

It takes about 28 days for calls to stop.

It's then illegal for firms in the UK and the rest of the EU to call those who've registered, unless you'd opted in to receive them (including if you ticked the often confusing 'allow third parties to contact me' box when filling in an online form).

TPS may also stop distressing calls intended for a deceased relative.

Unfortunately, the TPS won't stop all unwanted calls.

TPS is a register, not an automatic blocking device. While being on it means you'll no longer receive cold calls from more reputable companies in the EU, it's unlikely to deter rogue firms.

If you want to stop silent calls, register with the free Silentcall-Gard service. You must renew your registration every 12 months.

It adds you to a database used by the major telemarketing firms and makes clear you don't want to be contacted, so should cut the number of silent calls.

How to complain to Ofcom

If the calls continue, you can complain to Ofcom, which can fine companies.

What should I do?

- After the call, dial 1471 and see if you can get the number.

- If the number is withheld, note the call's time/date and contact your provider's nuisance call department.

- Complain to Ofcom online.

Opting out of charity cold calling

While such calls are not scams, they can sometimes be unwanted.

Registering with the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) will allow you to block fundraising communications from any charity.

You'll need to specify every charity you want to block - you won't be able to simply opt out of all charity contact.

How to stop unwanted texts

Most of us will have received scam or unwanted texts - sometimes from dodgy companies.

Each type of unwanted message needs to be dealt with differently.

By identifying the type of message you're receiving, the better chance of making them stop.

Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert has a useful guide on spam texts.

Spam texts

These usually message randomly generated numbers, advertising services such as accident 'ambulance chasers', PPI claims handlers or debt write-off firms.

They usually come from an 11-digit mobile number and the company isn't identified.

NEVER reply to a spam text. Either report it to your network provider by forwarding the message to 7726 (spells SPAM), making sure it includes the senders' number, or report it to the Information Commissioner 's officer.

Failing that, block the number.

Marketing messages

You'll receive legitimate marketing messages when you've fail to tick or untick a box (whether on purpose or by accident).

This allow companies to send you marketing messages or give your details to third party operators.

Firms will identify themselves within the body of text or in the sent-from number (this will show as text).

If you don't know who it's from, it's probably spam. Do not reply in this instance.

To get rid of genuine marketing messages, text STOP.

If you're unsure whether they are genuine, try the website of the company named in the message.

If that doesn't work, complain to the Information Commissioner, who can punish the firm with fine.

Premium messages

Also known as, 'reverse billed' messages, it's where you get charged for receiving a text to your phone.

You might have signed up for these services in the past, and either forgotten or not cancelled.

Text STOP or STOP ALL, in order to block future messages from that company.

If the messages keep coming, use premium-rate regulator PhonepayPlus' Number Checke r.

Enter the number and it'll give you contact details for the company, which you can use to request it stops the messages.

Suspicious texts

Suspicious texts should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

For more information visit Action Fraud here.

How to spot scam emails

Scam emails are sent from fraudsters to trick victims into disclosing personal and sensitive information.

The emails often claim to be sent from trusted sources such as banks or HMRC.

They will ask you to click on a link and then enter personal information which can be used to defrauded you or steal your identity.

Check the address the email has been sent from.

By using your mouse to hover over or right-click on the sender name, you will be able to see the email address behind it.

Fraudsters often have bizarre email addresses or one that doesn't quite match with the company they are claiming to be.

Look to see who the email addressed to. Often fraudsters will use an impersonal greeting such as 'Hi' or 'dear customer'.

Don't feel pressured into responding. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam emails will often claim there is a time limit or sense of urgency for you to act now, but don't fall for it. Take your time to make the checks you need.

Watch out for out for spelling and grammar mistakes. Also look out for slight changes in things such as a website link. This could look very similar to the company's real website, but even a single character difference means it is leading you to different website.

Think about whether you are expecting an email from that company. If it's out of the blue, it could be a scam.