South Holland residents are being urged to expose scams and help stop more people from falling prey to clever cons that fleece them of thousands of pounds.
South Holland District Council is supporting Scams Awareness Month, a national campaign run by the Citizens Advice Bureau throughout July.
As part of the initiative, the council will be highlighting how scams continue to flourish when people stay silent.
Figures show that less than five per cent of victims report scams to the authorities, and the council is encouraging residents to report suspicious activities, get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and to warn others to help stop scams from spreading.
Scams come in every form, from doorstep double glazing sales to online investment offers. People may be targeted with “vishing” calls where a fraudster impersonates their bank to collect their bank details, or by bogus companies offering computer services.
Online scams include dodgy job adverts and offers for goods and services, while mail scams may ask victims to pay a fee in order to claim their winnings from a prize draw they haven’t entered.
The campaign is asking people to keep two things in mind when they receive an unsolicited approach or when they are looking for goods or services: don’t be rushed and don’t be hushed.
People should take their time to make a decision and get their facts together before parting with their money or personal information, and speak out when they think they’ve spotted a scam.
Coun Gary Taylor, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “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.
“Scams are run by professional con artists and it can be very hard to know what to look out for.
“If you’re contacted out of the blue, be on your guard and never give your bank details out unless you are certain you know who the person is, and that you can trust them.
“If you think you have been scammed, contact Citizens Advice for help and report it to Trading Standards.”
Top tips for avoiding scams
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- It you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it
- You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize
- If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up
- Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious.
- Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
- Never send money to someone you have never met.
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
- Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.
- Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
- Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.
- Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
What to do if you have been scammed
- Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.
- Often you can’t always get your money back if you’ve been scammed, especially if you’ve handed over cash.
- If you’ve paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.
- Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 (for advice in Welsh phone 03454 04 05 05) or online advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk