CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO EXPOSE SCAMMERS' TRICKS
Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire West Citizens Advice are urging people in the borough to spread the word about scams and expose the tactics of fraudsters to protect others.
The Council's Trading Standards Team is working with Cheshire West Citizens Advice to launch Scams Awareness Month in July to help stop people falling prey to scams by following a three-step rule — get advice, report it, and tell others about it.
It comes as national research by Citizens Advice finds scammers are using a variety of tactics to get people to part with their cash, with people losing an average of £2,500 across all types of scam.
Scam methods include 'vishing' whereby scammers cold-call people in a bid to get their bank details, and offers of fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely.
Investment scams carried the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares losing of on average £20,000 each.
Citizens Advice is warning people to be on their guard and watch out for the different methods used by fraudsters, from doorstep selling of counterfeit goods to demands for upfront payments for services that never materialise.
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.
It's vital to report scams and spread the word so we can clamp down on con artists and stop others falling into the same traps.
Paul Nicholls, Chief Executive of Cheshire West Citizens Advice said:
"Scams are not a minor blight, they heap misery on people and in some cases can lead to financial ruin.
"Fraudsters use sophisticated techniques to con people and because they vary their methods, it can be tricky to spot when something is a scam. If you come across something that seems suspicious, seek advice so you don't put yourself at risk."
Cheshire West Citizens Advice is also inviting residents to join free events giving people the skills to stop scams in their tracks.
The events are taking place between 10am — 12 noon at main libraries in Cheshire West and Chester; and you can just turn up on the day:
Thursday 14 July at Northwich Library
Monday 18 July at Winsford Library
Wednesday 20 July at Ellesmere Port
Wednesday 27 July at Chester Library
Cheshire West Citizens Advice will be on hand to show people how to spot a scam. People will learn the tell-tale signs of fraud, from being made an offer that's too good to be true, to being rushed into signing on the dotted line.
If you think you have been scammed get advice and report it to Trading Standards through your local Citizens Advice or through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
Eight common scams reported to Citizens Advice are:
1. Investment — victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back.
2. Fake services — people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn't real or doesn't exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
3. Vishing — con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details — for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills.
4. Doorstep selling — victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, "fresh" fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
5. Upfront payment or fee — fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
6. Premium rate texts — victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
7. Counterfeit goods — people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
8. Goods not received — people place orders for goods which don't arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.