People are being reminded to be aware of scammers and con artists and to look out for those who could fall victim to them.
The warning from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team is asking people to be aware of the risk of scams whether on the doorstep, online, on the phone or through the post. It follows an increase in the number of scams over the last 18 months and officers are now keen to highlight the many different types of scams and the extent of con tricks which pose a threat to people’s finances and wellbeing.
One scam involves criminals claiming to be crime prevention officers or other similar agencies to obtain personal information or gain access to people’s homes. In one case a member of the public was contacted by phone and offered a 24-hour, seven day a week protection scheme. Furthermore the caller offered to come round to the person’s house to explain what they could do to help them stay safe. Such telephone support services do exist but they can be very expensive and in some cases have limited success.
People should always be weary of unsolicited approaches or phone calls and offers to call round to their home.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Scams and con tricks can cause a huge amount of misery and serious financial loss and unfortunately we’ve seen a real increase in the number of scams over recent years.
“Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days so it’s vital we stay really alert. They will try any method to defraud their victims. They will pretend to be an official organisation or your bank, and using the telephone, texts, email or even on the doorstep they will try to get your personal details.
“The worrying thing is that many of these modern scams can appear genuine but if you are in any doubt at all you should ignore the offer, hang up the phone and politely refuse doorstep calls. People should always be wary about an unsolicited approach.”
Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers though it is thought less than five per cent report them. Common scams in Staffordshire include bogus bank and HMRC phone calls asking for personal details, doorstep sales, scams relating to Covid-19, offers for goods and services and fake prize draw winnings.
Staffordshire’s Trading Standards Service is also part of the ‘Friends against Scams’ initiative. The scheme invites communities and individuals to become Friends and encourages individuals to openly talk about scams and help people avoid them. The team have also recently launched a project with True Call offering free call blocking devices to vulnerable residents to help block scams and nuisance calls.
People should report scam calls, texts, emails or any suspicious online activity to the Police via Action Fraud immediately. Visit Report a phishing attempt | Action Fraud or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040