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Trading Standards top tips on avoiding scams

Posted on Monday 22nd May 2023
Tony Shore with scam mail NR

Tony Shore, Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Manager

People are being urged to spot the signs of scams, report them and look out for those who may become victims as part of a national campaign.

Video link: Trading Standards Manager Tony Shore talks about Scams Awareness Week

Scams Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by Citizens Advice and supported by Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service. The campaign, which launches today (Monday 22 May) aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they spot a scam.

With many people facing increased financial pressures, and scams on the rise, officers now want people to spot tell-tale signs online, on the phone, through the post or on the doorstep.

Common scams include, energy rebate scams, bogus bank calls and emails asking for personal details, offers for goods and services and doorstep scams like double glazing sales.

Officers have also seen an increase in the ‘Hello Mum’ scam.  This is where victims receive a text message purporting from a family relative claiming to need urgent financial assistance. Believing it to be genuine, victims agree to make bank transfers of substantial amounts of money, not realising they are dealing with a scammer.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council’s said:

“Scams cause a huge amount of stress and harm to millions of people each year and sadly it seems to have become a daily part of our lives.

“It’s never been more important to be scam aware which is why our Trading Standards team are backing this national campaign.

“We want people to be able to recognise a scam, take the right action when dealing with a scam and talk about their experiences to raise awareness and help others.  It’s all about informing and arming consumers with the knowledge to help them stay safe.

“The campaign message is to stop, report, talk and be scam aware.   We know that lots of people feel embarrassed to speak up about being scammed, but if we get people talking, it helps others to avoid being scammed too.  It’s also important to look out for older relatives and neighbours too as they are often targeted most.”

Some top tips for avoiding scams:

  • Unsolicited emails from banks and social media websites asking you to take urgent action with your account are almost always fake. Delete them immediately, and if you think you have been tricked into sending money to a scammer contact your bank immediately.
  • Always use unique, hard to guess passwords for your important banking, shopping and social media websites.
  • Consider using a callblocker and ‘No Cold Callers’ cards to help deter telephone and doorstep scammers.
  • Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
  • Consider learning more about scammers to help protect yourself and others – become a ‘Friend Against Scams’.
  • Report the scam to Citizens Advice who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards

Estimates from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) suggest there were 5.1 million fraud offences in the year ending Sept 2021. Additionally, Citizens Advice found in the first 5 months of 2021 more than two thirds of adults (36 million) had been targeted by a scam.

People can report online scams to Citizens Advice and 0808 223 1133

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