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People reminded to be ‘scams aware’ in latest campaign

People across Staffordshire are being urged to spot the signs of scams, report them and look out for those who may become victims themselves.

The latest push from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team is reminding people to be aware of the risk of scams whether online, on the phone, through the post or on the doorstep.

The campaign is now highlighting the many different types of scams and the extent of con tricks which pose a threat to people’s finances and wellbeing.

Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers though it is thought less than five per cent report them.  And, according to industry group, UK Finance, more than £500m has already been stolen from customers of British banks in the first half of this year.

Common scams in Staffordshire include online investment offers, bogus bank phone calls asking for personal details, doorstep sales, online job adverts asking for an upfront fee, offers for goods and services and fake prize draw winnings.

Communities leader at Staffordshire County Council Gill Heath said:

“Scams can cause a huge amount of misery for those caught up in them, not to mention serious financial losses. Through our campaign We want to make sure people are aware of the latest scams out there and ultimately help them avoid being scammed themselves.

“Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days and will try any method to defraud their victims.

“We would always advise that if something appears too good to be true then it usually is, but we understand many scams appear genuine. If people are in any doubt at all they should ignore the offer, hang up the phone or politely refuse doorstep calls. People should always be wary about an unsolicited approach.”

Some tips to avoid phone scams include:

  • Anyone suspecting a phone scam should hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call their bank.
  • Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix people’s computers.
  • Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
  • Reject cold calls offering investments or pension advice.

Staffordshire’s Trading Standards Service is also part of the ‘Friends against Scams’ initiative.  The scheme invites communities and individuals to become Friends and encourages individuals to openly talk about scams.  Since July 2018 over 320 people have joined, with over 35 visits being made to scams victims, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable.

The team have also taken part in the national call blocker project, providing call blockers to people vulnerable to scam and nuisance calls.

People can find out more about avoiding scams at
www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/work-areas/scams-team/ or by calling the national consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.