Don’t let them con you or someone you know during Scams Awareness Month

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IF you have ever received a lottery ‘winners’ letter for a competition you hadn’t entered or an offer from a mystic clairvoyant to change your fortunes, (for just a few pounds), then you are one of the many thousands of people targeted each week by mass marketing scams.

May is National Scams Awareness Month and Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service wants Warwickshire residents and businesses to forward any potential scam letters, emails or details of phone calls to them at the following FREEPOST address:

FREEPOST CV1898

Warwickshire County Council

Trading Standards Service

Old Budbrooke Road

WARWICK CV35 7BR

Mark your letter ‘Scams Awareness Month 2012’.

This information will be recorded and used to investigate the scale of the problem both in Warwickshire and across the country

Criminal gangs, (often operating from abroad), use the post, email, fax and telephone to send out millions of scams ever year. They are usually sent out indiscriminately, but those who respond are then added to special lists and targeted.

Common Scams include:

· Prize draw and sweepstake scams

· Foreign lottery scams

· Email ‘phising’ scams

· Premium rate and telephone prize scams · Work at home and business opportunity scams · Pyramid selling and chain letter scams · Miracle health and slimming cure scams · Clairvoyant and psychic mailing scams · Bogus holiday clubs · Advanced fee frauds, and · Bogus business publishing offers

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“It is estimated that £3.5billion pounds each year are lost from the economy to scams and across the UK almost half the population have been targeted at one time or another.”

“Three million people in the UK fall victim to these types of scams every year.”

“Our goal throughout this month is to raise awareness of these many scams, how to spot them and how to protect vulnerable people from falling victim to them.”

“Whilst there is almost a different scam for every day of the year, there are five simple rules that everyone can follow to help avoid being scammed.”

Warwickshire Trading Standards 5 Simple Rules

1. Never send money to anyone who says you’ve won a prize or the lottery 2. Never give out your bank account details or other personal information to people you do not know or trust.

3. Never feel pressured to respond immediately, however enticing the offer may seem.

4. Never send money in response to bogus psychic mailings.

5. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is!

More information on scams is available on our website:

www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams

You can also report a fraud to Action Fraud on: 0300 123 2040 or visit: www.actionfraud.police.uk

The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or 0208 1850 710(English language).

· The Office of Fair Trading estimates that over three million people in the UK fall victim to mass marketed scams every year, collectively losing £3.5billion.

· Fewer than 5 per cent of victims report their experience

- one reason the OFT and local authority Trading Standards Services carry out public reporting drives for scam mailings.

· Research has suggested that an estimated 28 million UK consumers are targeted each year by scams, which exploit low cost, mass marketing techniques such as post, telephone, e-mail and the Internet.