Cheshire East Council has joined forces with partners as part of a crackdown on conmen.
Working with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and the National Trading Standards Scams Team, the Council is urging all residents to report attempted scams in a campaign to raise awareness of con artists who obtain money and property from unsuspecting victims.
According to statistics, less than five per cent of victims report their experience and so the Council’s trading standards officers and the CAB are urging all members of the public not to stay silent but to report any suspicions or activity.
Older people and the vulnerable are the group most likely to fall prey to callous con artists, who will resort to any tactics.
According to a recent Council report from trading standards one Cheshire East victim was conned out of £30,000.
In Cheshire East, more than 500 residents were found to be on a list of potential victims after providing their details through surveys, online forms and catalogue orders.
It is estimated the full potential financial risk could have been in the region of £1.4m.
The Council’s trading standards team have been in contact with those named to impress upon them the risks of providing personal details to third parties.
Today’s ‘scammers’ use more sophisticated methods including ‘vishing’ phone calls, in which they will convincingly impersonate bank staff or computer companies and persuade unsuspecting victims to reveal bank details and passwords.
Job advertisements and offers for goods and services or competition prizes can also turn out to be scams, especially where individuals are asked to pay money up front.
In the ‘Scams Awareness Month’ campaign, Cheshire East Council and the CAB are urging people to do two things before succumbing to an unsolicited approach – ‘Don’t be rushed and don’t be hushed!’
People should take their time to make a decision and get their facts together before parting with any money or personal details.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council cabinet member in charge of communities, said: “Scams and the con artists who practice them are despicable.
“It is often older people, the frail and vulnerable who are most at risk from this abhorrent criminal practice, which appears to have grown in scale and become more sophisticated in the wake of digital technology, telephone banking and remote selling.
“But the more traditional door-to-door conmen – and women -- are still out there, conning people into paying huge amounts of money for shoddy driveway and property repairs.
“I would urge all Cheshire East residents to assist us in trying to stamp out this cynical practice altogether.”
Steph Cordon, Cheshire East Council’s head of communities said: “We are working with the Citizens Advice Bureau in this campaign and I appeal to all residents, particularly neighbours of older people living alone, to be vigilant and to report any suspicions they have of a potential scam.
“Victims should not feel embarrassed and should not stay silent. Remember if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”
Scammers operate in all areas of everyday life and Cheshire East residents are advised to be cautious if asked to discuss their pension arrangements and plans, if they participate in online shopping and auctions, or online property searches.
Investment fraud is another market to be infiltrated while debit and credit card fraud continues to be the most common.
Some important points to be aware of:
· If in doubt don’t respond;
· Your bank will never ask for your PIN or password or for you to transfer money;
· Your bank will not visit you at home to collect cash, your PIN, card or chequebook;
· Ignore offers to fix your computer;
· If you haven’t entered a competition you cannot win a prize;
· Don’t be rushed or pressured;
· Don’t be afraid to speak out.
Additional contact details are the national Action Fraud hotline on 0300 123 2040, Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or go to www.adviceguide.org.uk