Cheshire East Council hosted a successful event this week for local people to learn how to stay safe from scamming.
Sessions run by Friends Against Scams, a National Trading Standards initiative, were well attended, raising awareness of the tricks and traps that scammers use. Many of those attending will go on to share this information within their local groups and communities.
Scamming is on the rise with more and more people falling victim to the criminals who commit these crimes.
Although it’s often people who are in vulnerable circumstances who are targeted, anyone can become a victim of a scam and it affects the lives of millions of people across the UK.
Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for communities and health said, “Knowledge is power against scammers. Many people are fearful of using the Internet because of scamming but with awareness of what to look out for, it is relatively easy to stay out of trouble, for example, never ever give your bank account password or pin number to anyone on the phone – banks or the police would never ring and ask you to do this and if in doubt, always check it out first.
“Sometimes people pretend to be council officers or representatives and we will always allow someone to ring our main number 0300 1235500 to check the legitimacy of our staff.”
The Council’s Trading Standards team conduct many investigations into scams, fraud, illegal trading and illicit goods. In the past year the Council has:
· Issued 18 formal warnings, 4 cease and desist notices , 16 seizures of illegal goods (over 10,000 illegal items and over £20k of illicit tobacco)
· 61 months imprisonment for offenders, over 450 hours in community service orders and over £35,000 in court fines.
· Visited 44 vulnerable people who were victims of scams and worked with over 25 schools and 800 children as part of our Knock Knock doorstep crime/rogue trader project.
· Carried out four covert operations to test if retailers are selling alcohol to underage young people. Positive under age test purchases from licensed premises has fallen from 33% in 2015 to 4% in 2016.
The Council’s website has lots of helpful information and advice to keep people safe from scams including a nominated neighbour scheme and doorstep crime. Good advice includes:
•If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
•It you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.
•You shouldn't have to pay anything to get a prize.
•If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
•Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No thank you”.
•Contacted out of the blue – be suspicious.
•Never send money to someone you don’t know.
•Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
•Don’t suffer in silence – tell others about scams.
Anyone who’s concerned that they or someone they know may be being scammed is asked to report it by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 or go online www.citizensadvice.org.uk
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