06 July 2017
Trading Standards

People in Northamptonshire are being asked to play their part and report scams as part of the national Scams Awareness Month campaign.

Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards has supported more than 250 scam victims in the past year, including a woman in her 80s who was being targeted by scam mail organisations.

She was left with no heating or food in the fridge and her bank account was overdrawn because she had been tricked into handing over such large sums of money.

Thanks to support from Trading Standards, Age UK and her bank, the woman has now had more than £20,000 of scam transactions refunded to her account and is now no longer responding to scam mail.

Younger victims

National figures show 75 is the average age of reported scam victims, though there has also been a rise in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds becoming victims.

An increasingly-common type of scam involves consumers buying ‘phantom goods’, in which shoppers are tricked into buying high value items, usually online, such as cars, flights and furniture, which turn out not to exist. The average loss was £1,100.

The message of this year’s Scams Awareness month is ‘play your part, act on scams’.

Northamptonshire Trading Standards is calling on the public to be more aware of how they could be scammed, and to report it if they get caught out.

Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, said: “With so many consumers being duped by scammers, there is no reason to be embarrassed – and every reason to report incidents and help the authorities put a stop to it.

“We work closely with Northamptonshire Police and other partner agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK to identify victims of scams and provide support to try to prevent repeat victimisation, so I really would encourage people to come forward if they think they may have been duped by a scam.”

Helpful tips

Paul Golley, of the Prevention and Community Protection Department at Northamptonshire Police, said: “There are a number of scams currently affecting residents in Northamptonshire and we are working hard to tackle this form of crime. We fully support the Trading Standards campaign and would encourage anyone who has been affected by a scam to report it.

“There are also some simple measures you can take to protect yourself from scams and fraud. The ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign encourages people to always stop and think before sharing any personal or financial information.”

The ‘Take Five To Stop Fraud’ advice is:

  1. Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
  2. Don’t assume an email, text or phone call is authentic
  3. Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
  4. Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn’t feel right
  5. Stay in control – don’t panic and make a decision you’ll regret

Find out more at https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/.

People can report suspected scams, or get help and advice about preventing scams, by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.