Consumer: Don’t give the telephone scammers an easy gift

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Sales season is upon us, and it often brings with it promises of unmissable bargains and once in a lifetime offers.

But for every genuine offer, there’s a scammer waiting to pounce. ‘Tis the season to be wary.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards is urging people to be particularly vigilant for fraudsters who operate over the telephone.

If you receive an unexpected phone call for an offer or deal, be on your guard.

At an expensive time of year for many with large energy bills, presents and celebrations, disreputable businesses are on the look-out for an opportunity to steal some of that hard-earned cash.

Telephone scams can come in a number of different varieties and these fraudsters are coming up with smarter, sneakier ways to get innocent people to part with their money. These can include:

Prize draws: If you are asked to pay a fee to release a prize you’ve won, be very wary. Legitimate competitions would not ask their winners to do this.

PPI/accident compensation: Fraudulent companies are blanket calling people in the hope that they will find someone who has recently had an accident or taken out PPI on a loan.

Employment scams: A business’s payroll or HR department would never ask for account details over the phone. This is just another to prey on people through the promise of finding a job.

Microsoft/BT scams: A threat of unpaid bills, disconnection or viruses is used to get people to pay a fee to remove the problem. Legitimate businesses would not ask you to do this.

Fraudsters often target the vulnerable, as they think they will be more susceptible to their tricks.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said, “With less than 10 per cent of all scams and frauds reported, there are many criminals still operating out there, stealing from unsuspecting consumers.

“For these fraudsters to be brought to justice, we need members of the public to be confident in reporting them to the authorities.”

Councillor Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “This time of year can be very difficult money-wise, with budgets stretched even further than normal. Consumers will be looking out for good deals and this is what scammers are taking advantage of.

“Be wary of doing business over the telephone and spread the warning message to friends, family and neighbours.”
Call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0845 703 4599.

Dean Johnstone, chief executive of Minds Ahead and joint leader of the centre of excellence in Leeds.

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