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Speak out to prevent scams in Harlow

Politics / Thu 2nd Jul 2015 at 09:03am

Essex Trading Standards is calling on residents in Essex to expose scams and help stop more people from falling prey to clever cons that fleece them of thousands of pounds.

Scams Awareness Month launches today (1 July) and will be highlighting how scams continue to flourish when people stay silent. Figures show that less than 5% of victims report scams to the authorities, and Trading Standards is encouraging residents to report suspicious activities, get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and to warn others to help stop scams from spreading.

Scams come in every form, from doorstep double glazing sales to online investment offers. People may be targeted with “vishing” calls where a fraudster impersonates their bank to collect their bank detail or by bogus companies offering computer services over the phone. Online scams include dodgy job adverts and offers for goods and services, while mail scams may ask victims to pay a fee in order to claim their winnings from a prize draw they haven’t entered.

The Scams Awareness Month campaign is asking people to keep two things in mind when they receive an unsolicited approach or when they are looking for goods or services: 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 their money or personal information, and speak out when they think they’ve spotted a scam.

Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council lead member for Trading Standards, said: “Scams thrive on silence. Fraudsters know that victims are often too ashamed to share what happened to them, meaning that scams can continue to spread unchecked. We’re urging people to lift the lid on scams and start talking about suspicious email, junk mail, online ads or door-to-door sellers operating in their area.

“Scams are run by professional con artists and it can be very hard to know what to look out for. Our advice is that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re contacted out of the blue be on your guard, and never give your bank details out unless you are certain you know who the person is, and that you can trust them. If you think you have been scammed, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline for advice on 03454 040506.”

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