Residents in the county are being warned about bogus and fraudulent offers as Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officially launches Norfolk Scams Awareness 2013.
Trading Standards will continue to raise awareness about scams throughout 2013 by issuing regular advice on how people can protect themselves and issue warnings about new scams and those targeting Norfolk residents. Members of the public can sign up to receive these, and join over 3,000 existing subscribers via www.norfolk.gov.uk/scams
In addition Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards officers are holding three Scams Awareness Consumer Workshops during February (Norwich and King’s Lynn) for invited partners and other organisations which are in contact with high risk groups. The aim is to raise awareness of scams, recognise scams and scams victims, as well as highlighting how to protect themselves and others from scams. There will also be two Scams Awareness Workshops for businesses to raise awareness of scams specifically targeting the business community.
Scams Awareness Workshops will then be delivered throughout the year. The workshops will offer an opportunity for those concerned, to protect themselves, and others in their community, from scams, and how they can support those that have fallen victim.
Nigel Dixon, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “We are using the strap line ‘Working together to beat scams in Norfolk’ to highlight that by working with other agencies we can stop people falling victim to a scam. It can be difficult to identify vulnerable consumers, but by working with partners, who are in contact with some of the most vulnerable in Norfolk, we can identify and support victims. Helping scam victims can be a complex challenge as victims have differing needs so it is important that we spread the word and work together to develop an effective and consistent approach.
“It is important for our Trading Standards Officers to get out into the community and provide an opportunity for both businesses and members of the public to pick up advice and information and ask any questions they may have.
“Scams can come in many forms such as over the telephone, at the door, or through mail and email and whilst we regularly publicise scams that we are aware of within Norfolk, we still deal with cases throughout the course of the year where residents have lost sums of money, often with little hope of seeing it returned. I would encourage people to keep up to date with the regular scam alerts and advice that we make available at www.norfolk.gov.uk/scams”
Nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam. More than three million adults – one in 15 people – fall victim to scams, losing a total of £3.5 billion every year. Scams are often targeted specifically at vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers, such as those already in debt.
Fraud against UK individuals is estimated to cost £6.1 billion per annum, based upon estimates on the scale of mass marketing fraud (£3.5 billion), identity fraud (£1.2 billion), online ticket fraud (864 million), private rental property fraud and electricity scams.
Norfolk Trading Standards’ Top Tips to avoid being scammed:
• If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
• Don’t send money upfront because your name will go on a “suckers list” and you’ll be bombarded with more scams.
• Don’t give personal or bank details to anyone unless you’ve checked them out.
• Pass on warnings. Tell your friends and family if you discover a scam.
• Take extra care with documents and paperwork - shred anything with your personal details on it.
For further advice contact Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk/consumer
Sign up to Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Scam Alert system at www.norfolk.gov.uk/scams
If you receive emails or letters about a scam, don’t reply – even to say no. Once scammers get a reply, they will send more unwanted messages.
Don’t give out any personal details like your address or ‘confirm’ details like your bank account number over the telephone or in response to an email.
If you answer the door to a salesperson, ask to see their ID. Do not feel pressured into signing or agreeing anything on the spot. Take the paperwork away to read.