Warning about scams

As part of Scams Awareness Month (May) Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards service is warning about fraudsters preying on hard-up households.

Fraud offences in England and Wales rose by 25% in 2013, compared to the previous year, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud. Nationally Citizens Advice has calculated up to four million people could be scammed each year as many scams go unreported.

People are just as likely to be conned over the phone and via text messages as they are through emails and websites. New analysis reveals:

-Over a third of scams (34%) were over the phone.

-Almost a quarter of scams (24%) were through visits to a website.

-16% were letter or fax scams.

-One in ten scams (10%) were through emails.

Trading Standards is warning that people should watch out for non-secure websites that ask for financial details. It’s important that people realise scammers are also at the end of the phone and on their doorstep.

Counterfeit cashier cheques, fraudulent lenders offering loans to get hold of personal details, dating scams, ticket cons and computer hacking were amongst commonly reported scams. Online shopping and auction fraud was the biggest single fraud type with almost 40,000 recorded cases.

County council cabinet member for Public Protection, Strategic Infrastructure & Economic Growth Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “Our trading standards team work hard to protect county residents and businesses from becoming victims of a scam.

“They are committed to protecting the most vulnerable from the many different scams out there, whether they are being targeted by phone, through emails, through the post, online and even by fax as well as on their doorstep.

“Trading standards is also working with adult social care, Age UK, Victim Support and Northamptonshire Police to identify potential victims of scams and intervene to provide support to prevent further victimisation.

“If you think that you might have been affected by a scam, please contact trading standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or online advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk”

Trading Standards Institute (TSI) chief executive, Leon Livermore, said:

“Trading standards are on the frontline when it comes to protecting vulnerable people from these scams. Their work makes it tough for scammers to get through to the country’s most vulnerable.

“Scams Awareness Month gives trading standards and partners like Citizens Advice the opportunity to reach out to those most at risk from scammers, and educate them and members of the community as to how to avoid falling victim to these insidious schemes.”

Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“Scammers are picking the pockets of millions of innocent people. Pensioners and hard-up households face invasion through their computers, phones, letterboxes, and on the doorstep.

“People who are already struggling to put food on the table, let alone save money day-to-day, are being fleeced of their hard-earned cash. It is disgraceful that scammers are often targeting elderly people with sophisticated scams such as posing as their bank or phone company. We are running Scams Awareness Month to encourage people to fight back against the fraudsters pushing their cons into the nation’s homes by reporting those scams.”