Don’t fall foul of scams
Nottinghamshire residents are being reminded not to fall foul of prevalent scams this Scams Month (June 2018).
The County Council’s Trading Standards team has received over 400 reports on scams from local residents in the last twelve months, though it is estimated that only 5 to 15 percent of scams are reported.
Last year Citizens Advice, which provides national front line Trading Standards advice, found that almost three quarters of people surveyed had been targeted by a scam in the previous two years.
Scams Awareness Month aims to raise awareness and take a stand against the crimes and predatory practices which affect millions of people.
Common scams to be wary of include:
- HMRC refund - criminals take advantage of HM Revenue and Customs processing tax refunds after the end of the tax year by sending out emails and text messages which have links taking victims to fake websites where their personal and financial information can be stolen.
- Telephone Preference Service - a common telephone cold calling scam from a company claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service asking victims to verify their bank details to prevent their registration expiring. This is a free service so this organisation would never ask for payment details.
- Slow computer scam – scammers cold call people and claim to be from Microsoft in response to a notification that their computer has been running slow or has a virus they can fix for a fee. Scammers can also try to take complete control of the victim’s computer to find personal data and install spyware.
- Transferring money to another country– a common email scam in various guises including a bogus inheritance to trick victims into parting with money or sharing bank or credit card details.
- Miracle cures – advertisements with fake testimonials promoting untested products claiming to cure a wide range of ailments or promote weight loss which may even be harmful.
- Doorstep crime – a wide-ranging scam which often targets older and vulnerable people by pressurising them into paying extortionate prices for unnecessary or substandard work or products. This can also involve doorstep criminals claiming to be from a trusted organisation to distract the victim whilst a burglary takes place.
- Fish sellers – a perennial doorstep scam where traders sell poor quality fish or hand large quantities of fish with a large bill when the buyer is led to believe they were buying small quantities.
- Fake police officers – cold calls claiming to be from the police investigating their bank where they ask the victim to transfer large sums of money.
- Investment scams – unsolicited phone calls, letters or emails inviting victims to invest a substantial amount of money, in some cases their life savings, in products or schemes that are either worthless or do not exist.
- Prize draws and lottery scams – victims are informed they have won a lottery jackpot or a prize draw but to access the winnings they have to pay a fee. Unfortunately, the lottery money or prize does not exist.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, Vice-Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee, said: “Scams can leave lasting financial and psychological distress on victims, and often come with a stigma which leaves victims embarrassed and unwilling to report the crime.
“Our advice is be very suspicious of all unsolicited mail, emails or telephone cold calls and say no to all doorstep tradespeople.
“Legitimate companies will not call you to verify your financial details or demand a fee for a usually free service or a special offer, so never give your details out when you receive unsolicited requests.”
The ‘Friends Against Scams’ scheme is helping to spread the word on how to spot and avoid a scam amongst local communities.
To sign up to the ‘Friends Against Scams’ scheme visit its website at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk
Victims of scams should report their experience to Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.