Support for National Safeguarding Day on 29th February
Every year scams contribute an average of £9 billion loss to UK consumers, not to mention the devastating psychological effects on the victims they leave behind.
Gloucestershire Trading Standards service is hoping to raise awareness of this crime this leap year by supporting National Safeguarding Day on 29th February.
One of trading standards priorities is to give a voice to the victims of scams and to encourage potential victims and those who may care for them to identify, prevent and report these crimes.
Anyone can be a victim of a scam, but the National Trading Standards Scams Team has revealed the average age of a victim is 74. By taking advantage of their vulnerability, criminals use a variety of deceitful methods to encourage people to part with thousands of pounds.
In one instance the National Trading Standards Scams Team revealed that after months of grooming and false promises an elderly victim parted with £1 million pounds to a fake lottery scam company.
As devastating as these incidents are, scams are massively underreported. It is estimated that roughly 1 in 20 people fall victim to scams every year, but fewer than 5% of victims report their experience.
By supporting the National Safeguarding Day, Gloucestershire Trading Standards service wants to increase reporting by raising awareness of this crime. Increased awareness could prevent the most vulnerable becoming victims.
They are urging people to be aware about how to spot a scam. Here are some things to look out for:
- Out of the blue phone calls, letters and emails
- Being asked to send money to claim a prize
- Being told of winnings when a competition wasn't entered
- Too good to be true offers
- Pressure selling
- Uninvited door step callers
- Being asked share your personal details
Eddie Coventry, head of Gloucestershire Trading Standards, said: "Locally we are aware of a two victims who fell foul of a timeshare scam. They had wanted to dispose of their timeshares and were approached by a rogue company which claimed it could act on their behalf on payment of upfront fees.
"One victim lost £12,000, the other more than £65,000. Unfortunately situations such as these are not uncommon and can have shattering effects on a victim's life.
"Not only can they lose their life savings but also lose the confidence to leave their home and in some instances health issues such as anxiety and depression can develop."
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "People who are scammed need our support.
"If you ever think you are being scammed - please let someone know as soon as possible. Even if it turns out that someone is being genuine, you will have peace of mind."
If you suspect a scam or think you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, please report it to the Citizens Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 20 40. You can also find information on scams on the trading standards website at http://glos.tradingstandards.uk.