Trading Standards Fight Against Scammers Goes On – 26/02/2008
Trading Standards Service (TSS) is urging consumers to continually be on the look out for scams.
February was Scams Awareness Month for 2008, and it was revealed that Northern Ireland consumers lose over £100million every year on bogus lotteries, prize draws, and other scams. Consumers were asked to collect any scam mailings they received during February, and send them to TSS headquarters.
Highlighting their message that scams are ‘Scheming, Crafty, Aggressive, Malicious’ (SCAM), TSS is urging consumers not to be taken in by scams. As part of their ongoing series of Scam Awareness Roadshows, TSS will be at the Erneside Shopping Centre in Enniskillen on 6 March 2008 to offer advice and guidance, and provide a free information pack on how to spot a scam.
Trading Standards Officer Kerry McAuley says: “From the scam mailings received during the past month, we can see that a variety of mail scams are prevalent across Northern Ireland at the moment. These range from bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes, to fake psychics, get-rich-quick schemes and miracle health cures.
“We highlighted during February the cases of two pensioners who between them lost over £114,000 in lottery scams. These scams are aimed not only at the elderly but at all members of society, and often the most vulnerable.
“Always be suspicious if you are asked to send money to claim your prize. A genuine lottery or competition would not ask you to do this. Also be wary if the only point of contact given is a PO Box number. If you are asked to make a telephone call, look out for numbers beginning 090 as these are premium rate numbers.
“While the scams themselves may change, the warning signs do not.”
If you think you or a family member or friend may have been the victim of a scam, report it to Domain Scams. The Domain Scams team will be happy to advise on any consumer issues – call 0845 600 6262 or log on to www.domainscams.co.uk.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Scams Awareness Month was 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.
The key message of the campaign is that as scams have become more sophisticated, new methods are being used to ‘get smart with scammers’, such as using new European laws, including the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulations, closer co-operation with authorities, as well as ‘name and shaming’ companies and individuals.
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.
Earlier this month, Trading Standards asked 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.
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