Trading Standards is launching a campaign today to encourage people to be on their guard against scams.
Scams costs consumers across the UK an average of £9 billion a year, not to mention the debilitating psychological effects on the victims caused by this type of crime.
To mark National Safeguarding Day, Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards team is supporting the campaign and encouraging people to report suspected scams.
According to the National Trading Standards Scams Team, the average age of scam victims is 74. In one case reported in Northamptonshire, an elderly couple in their 80s had been tricked into paying up to £200 a month after responding to mail and phone calls from scam lottery and prize draw organisations and were falling behind on their utility bills as a result.
The county’s Trading Standards team offered support to help the couple get on top of the problem, including providing training to a Northamptonshire Police PCSO who carried out visits to the couple to offer advice.
The PCSO, together with a volunteer from the charity Age UK Northamptonshire, arranged for a free Trading Standards call blocker to be fitted to their phone to ensure no scam calls get through.
Trading Standards also funded a visit from the Age UK Northamptonshire money management support co-ordinator to help the couple organise their finances, cancel bank cards and direct debits, and arrange for ongoing support from their bank.
The couple have now said they are on top of their finances for the first time in a long time and the support has made an immeasurable difference to them.
Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, said: “Sadly, situations such as this are common and can have a devastating effect on a victim’s life.
“Not only can it cost them their life savings but it can also shatter their confidence and affect their independence.
“As devastating as these incidents are, scams are massively underreported. It is estimated that roughly one in 20 people fall victim to scams every year, but fewer than five per cent of them report their experience.
“By supporting National Safeguarding Day, we want to raise awareness of this crime and encourage more people to report incidents.”
Here are some tips for spotting a potential scam:
- Unexpected phone calls, letters and emails
- Being asked to send money to claim a prize
- Being told of winnings when a competition wasn’t entered
- Too good to be true offers
- Pressure selling
- Uninvited door step callers
- Being asked share your personal details
If you suspect a scam or think you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, you can report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 20 40.
Further information about scams is available from Trading Standards by calling 0300 126 1000.