Northern Ireland consumers lose over £100million every year on bogus lotteries, prize draws, and other scams, research shows.
Every year an estimated three million people in the UK fall victim to mass marketed scams such as bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes, fake psychics, get-rich-quick schemes and miracle health cures. Many of these scams are sent through the post, as well as by e-mail and over the phone. The research suggests that fewer than 5% of victims report the scam to the authorities.
February is Scams Awareness Month for 2008 and Trading Standards Service (TSS) wants to help consumers by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to recognise, report and combat scams.
As part of Scams Awareness Month, TSS are asking consumers to collect any scam mailings they receive during February and send them in to the Trading Standards Service at 176 Newtownbreda Road, Belfast, BT8 6QS.
Anyone who receives a particularly large amount of scam mailings can contact Domain Scams on 0845 600 6262 and arrange for them to be collected. The scam mailings collected will provide the Trading Standards Service and the Office of Fair Trading with crucial information on the latest scams.
TSS will also be going on the road this month to warn the Northern Ireland public about scams, starting at the Abbey Centre on 14 and 15 February, where TSS will be on hand to offer advice and provide a free information pack on how to spot a scam.
Trading Standards Officer Kevin McNamara says: “The people who run these scams are clever, sophisticated and well versed in the ways of getting us to part with our money. There’s a scam out there for everyone. If you let your guard down and think you won’t be fooled, then you too could become a victim. If you discover a scam or suspect a scam, tell friends and family and contact Domain Scams on 0845 600 6262.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Scams Awareness Month is part of an international initiative organised by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network. The Office of Fair Trading has enlisted the support of local Trading Standards Services (including DETI’s Trading Standards Service), Consumer Direct, the Advertising Standards Authority and other consumer and industry bodies.
2. The key message of the campaign is that as scams have become more sophisticated, new methods are being used to get smart with scammers, including using new European laws, including the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulations, closer co-operation with authorities, as well as ‘name and shaming’ companies and individuals.
3. Recent research commissioned by the Office of Fair Trading involving 11,200 interviews has found that 1,388,000 UK consumers fall victim to prize draw and sweepstake scams, 400,000 to bogus holiday clubs, 330,000 to work at home scams, 200,000 to miracle health scams, 170,000 to clairvoyant and psychic scams and 110,000 to loan scams. A copy of the research is available at www.oft.gov.uk.
4. For media enquiries please contact the DETI Press Office, telephone 028 9052 9591.
5. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.