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4 February 2010, 05:40 | Updated: 4 February 2010, 05:43
Have you ever received a letter saying you've won a big cash prize - but to get it - you first have to send them money to claim the prize?
Well more than 3 million people fall for scams like these every year - but now there's moves to try and stop it, in Bedford.
The Borough Council has signed up to the nationwide ‘Scamnesty’ campaign, which aims to help end the scourge of mass marketed scam mailings in the UK.
Nearly half of the UK has been targeted by a scam, and every year, 3.2 million adults – that's 1-in-15 of us - fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails, designed to con us of our cash - we're duped to the tune of £3.5bn.
Through ‘Scamnesty 2010’ the council is calling on residents to fight back against the fraudsters by collecting any scam mailings they receive and dropping them into designated ‘Scamnesty’ bins located at Bedford Borough Council Town Hall reception, Borough Hall reception and Bedford Central Library.
Last year the campaign revealed that the top five mass-marketed scam mailings in the UK at that time were:
1) Deceptive sweepstakes,
2) Misleading prize draws,
3) Fake clairvoyants/psychics,
4) Bogus foreign lotteries, and
5) ‘Miracle’ health cures
Speaking to HEART, Nick Charsley told us "It's time we all work together to put a stop to it - here in Bedford these "Scamnesty" bins - will provide valuable new intelligence to the Borough Council’s Trading Standards department and the Office of Fair Trading to investingation nationally.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty.
During February, you can also report online scams to the ‘virtual bin’ on the Consumer Direct website.