Yorkshire: Trading Standards Warn About Scams
8 May 2014, 10:57 | Updated: 8 May 2014, 11:01
Throughout May, West Yorkshire Trading Standards is warning residents to be on the look out for rogues who are ripping people off under the guise of various seemingly legitimate offers.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards has seen the emergence of scam mailings, bogus emails and fraudulent phone calls, brought to light through a series of interactive workshops being delivered across the district to local residents.
As part of the financial Fitness initiative being delivered across Kirklees, Leeds and Bradford, community members have been learning how to spot the hallmarks of a scam, empowering themselves with the skills they need to protect themselves and to look out for others who might be vulnerable to falling foul of unscrupulous scammers.
Older residents across Leeds and Bradford are also engaging with the interactive, hands on SAFER workshops in a bid to raise awareness of scams emerging locally and improve financial health, whilst engaging with others, sharing tips and advice.
It is estimated that nearly half of the people in the UK (48%) have been targeted by a scam.
Crime figures show nearly a 60% rise in reported fraud over the past 5 years- boosted by identity theft and online scams.
Every year more than 3 million people in the UK fall victims to scams losing hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds.
The Citizens Advice Service says just 5% of scams are reported and are wanting more people to report them and not to suffer in silence.
Citizens Advice Service and Trading Standards are running Scams Awareness Month throughout May warning people to be ever-vigilant against rogues and scams, urging people to help 'spot them and stop them'. They will be reminding people that scams come in all shapes and sizes, including adverts, people knocking on your door, emails, letters, phone calls, texts and over the internet.
CABs and Trading Standards officers will be warning people to look out for key signs that something is a scam, such as being contacted out of the blue, requests for money in advance or telling you to 'keep it a secret', and have released some top tips on how to spot a scam and protect themselves from rogues.
What to do if you have been scammed
- Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others. Don't suffer in silence.
- If you've paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.
- Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 404 05 06 or online at www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Signs of a scam
- A call, letter, email or text has come out of the blue.
- You've never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about.
- You didn't buy a ticket- so you can't win.
- They are asking you to send money in advance
- They are saying you have to respond quickly, so you don't have time to think about it or ask family before you decide.
- They are telling you to 'keep it secret'.
- They seem to be offering you something for nothing.
- If it seems too good to be true- it probably is.
How to protect yourself better
- Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
- Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to businesses that should already hold your details.
- Shred anything with your personal or bank details on- don't just throw it away.
- If in doubt, don't reply. Bin/shred it, delete it or hang up.
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: "No Thank You".
- Resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
- Never send money to someone you don't know.
- Walk away from job adverts that ask for money or bank details in advance.
- Ask friends, neighbours or family about whether an offer is likely to be a scam.
Help for people who have been scammed
- Think Jessica www.thinkjessica.com - a charity protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and by telephone.
- Victim Support www.victimsupport.org.uk - gives free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales. Call 0845 30 30 900.
- Age UK www.ageuk.org.uk - has local branches around the UK providing help and support for older people.
- The Silver Line www.thesilverline.org.uk - is a free 24-hour dedicated helpline for older people across the UK (0800 470 80 90) which provides information and befriending for elderly people.
- Royal Voluntary Service www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk -offers a befriending service.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said:
'People are seeing their money go down the drain as con artists rip them off by promising lottery wins, work on their home or a new job only to find there is nothing at the end.
'As budgets are squeezed nationally, it is more important than ever that our cash does not end up in the wrong hands. This month we are reinforcing the message for people to be on the lookout for rogues hoping to make a quick buck and remind residents that scams are crimes, it is vital they are reported.'