People in Staffordshire are being urged to spot the signs of scams, report them and look out for those who may become victims themselves.
Scams Awareness Fortnight, which started on Monday 14 June, and Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service is reminding people to be aware of the risk of scams whether online, on the phone, through the post or on the doorstep.
Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers, though it is thought less than five per cent report them. An estimated £10 billion is also lost to scammers each year.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Trading Standards officers have also seen an increase in the number and variety of scams. Making the rounds include vaccine text scams trying to get people’s personal details and door to door scams offering special cleansing services, claiming they can protect against Coronavirus.
Other common scams include online investment offers, bogus bank and HMRC phone calls and texts, online job adverts asking for an upfront fee and fake prize draw winnings.
The service is now reminding anyone receiving suspicious emails or texts not to click on links or attachments and never respond to unsolicited messages that ask for their personal or financial details. People should also be wary of unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information. If this happens, people should hang up, leave it for ten minutes and then call the person back.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “This is a particularly busy couple of weeks for our Trading Standards officers as they try and make people aware of the dangers of scams. Scams are big business these days and can cause a huge amount of misery for those caught up in them, not to mention serious financial losses. As well as the established scams, over the past eighteen months we have also seen an increase in the number of scams relating to Covid-19, so people need to be extra vigilant.
“Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days and will try any method to defraud their victims. 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 and please look out for your elderly family members and neighbours too.”
People can find out more about avoiding scams and how to report them at www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/work-areas/scams-team/ or by calling the national consumer service on 0345404 05 06.
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