GLOUCESTERSHIRE Trading Standards and the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux are warning people that everything is not always what it seems when it comes to scams such as fake lotteries and prize draws, get-rich-quick schemes, bogus health claims, investment cons and pyramid selling.
This month is Scams Awareness Month and trading standards officers are highlighting some of the ways in which tricksters are still taking people in.
One of the most prevalent is mailing scams. These can be based abroad, which makes it hard to shut them down and prosecute the people behind them.
However, where the sender is based in the UK, residents can take steps to avoid receiving scam mail. When registering to vote, they can tick a box to opt out of the edited register – the equivalent of an ex-directory phone number.
People can also sign up to the Mailing Preference Service on 0845 703 4599 to have their name taken off direct mailing lists in the UK. Mail addressed to ‘the occupier’ can be avoided by contacting Royal Mail’s door to door opt outs on 01865 798964.
CAB in Gloucestershire has had a number of reports recently from people who have been contacted by the Lotteria Primitiva in Madrid, claiming they have won €500,000, but then asked to pay the organisers administrative fees of £250 to release the cash. None of the recipients had entered the lottery.
Trading Standards officers have received reports of residents who have signed up for free samples and trials of products, but then found themselves receiving regular deliveries and demands for further payment.
Trading Standards and the CAB have the following tips to avoid being conned:
- Think twice before replying to any unsolicited mail unless you think it is safe to do so
- Don’t rush into any decision
- Talk it over with someone you trust
- Look for recommendations or other people’s experience with the people who have approached you
- Make sure you really want what is on offer
- Make sure you fully understand what is on offer and what you have to do in return
Eddie Coventry, head of Gloucestershire Trading Standards, said: “No matter how tempting the offer or prize seems to be, people should take the time to consider whether it is too good to be true. “Trading Standards officers are working with a national team to identify and support residents who may have been caught out by scam mail in the past. Anyone who has concerns should report them – they could be preventing others from falling for the same cons.”
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, Gloucestershire County Council's cabinet member responsible for community safety, said: “There will always be people who want to cheat others out of their money and conmen are increasingly using new methods to do it.
“The best way of fighting back is by reporting any concerns immediately. The more people are made aware of these scams, the more likely they are to be stopped in their tracks.”
Anyone who thinks they been the victim of a scam can call the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506 and the information will be passed on to Trading Standards. Alternatively, they can visit their local CAB or, if they haven’t been caught out but want to report a scam, can report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk