Consumer: Speak out to stop scams spreading

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West Yorkshire Trading Standards is encouraging people to speak out about scams to prevent others being fleeced out of thousands of pounds.

Figures from the Office of Fair Trading show that less than five per cent of victims report scams to the authorities - even though keeping silent allows bogus schemes to continue unchecked.

The consumer protection body is using scam awareness month throughout July to highlight how speaking up can help stop more people falling prey to clever cons.

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS), said “Scams thrive on silence. Fraudsters know that victims are often too ashamed to share what happened to them, meaning that scams can continue to spread unchecked. We’re urging people to lift the lid on scams and start talking about suspicious email, junk mail, online ads or door-to-door sellers operating in their area.”

WYTS has teamed up with West Yorkshire Police to offer people information, advice and free toolkits at Morley Post Office from 9.30am to noon on August 4. The organisation has already held a crime prevention event, social media awareness campaign, a live web chat with West Yorkshire Police and a summer gala to highlight the issue. The SAFER Project, a Big Lottery funded initiative run by WYTS, has also been installing free call blocking technology to stop unwanted telephone calls to elderly or vulnerable people.

Coun Andrew Pinnock, from the WYTS Committee, said “Scams are run by professional con artists and it can be very hard to know what to look out for. Through our work at West Yorkshire Trading Standards, in conjunction with key partner agencies, we are highlighting this message to our communities.”

Scams can come in many forms, such as online investment offers, doorstep salespeople or ‘vishing calls’ where a con artist claims to be from the victim’s bank.

Some to look out for include pensions scams - where the fraudsters use phrases such as one-off investment opportunities, free pension reviews, pension liberation and legal loopholes - dating rackets where scammers groom victims into a relationship before asking for financial help and online shopping and auction fraud, where internet shoppers are lured into buying phantom cars or mobile phones using a range of tricks such as bogus websites, spoofed payment services and second chance offers tempting losing bidders with bogus opportunities.

Anyone who has been a victim of a scam should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. They can also get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service at www.adviceguide.org.uk or 03454 040506.

SCAM PREVENTION

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you haven’t bought a ticket, you can’t win it.

You shouldn’t have to pay anything to collect a prize.

Never send money to someone you haven’t met.

Your bank will never ask for your pin or online banking password. Nor will it ask you to transfer money to a different account or call at your home to collect a pin, card or cheque.

Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited calls to help you fix your computer.

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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