Don't fall foul of the scammers

Issued jointly by The HIghland Council and the Office of Fair Trading

Highland residents are being urged not to fall foul of clever scammers out to con people out of their hard earned cash.  The Highland Council’s trading standards team has joined forces with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to warn that if an offer through your letterbox or e-mail inbox looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The team has linked up with Alan Michael, Development Officer of Contact the Elderly to help spread the message that anyone can be affected by a scam but older consumers and the vulnerable suffer the most. 

Glenys Brown, Highland Council’s Trading Standards Officer said: “Scams can take many forms, ranging from bogus lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions through foreign money offers, miracle health cures and free gift schemes, to golden investment opportunities.

“People who run scams are clever and sophisticated and they know how to persuade us to part with our cash.  Beware of any offer that asks for money or your bank details upfront, is pushing you into making an immediate decision, or offers you something for nothing, and don’t be rushed into sending off money straightaway to someone you don’t know.”

Nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam and every year 3.2 million adults - one in 15 people – in the UK fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls or e-mails. The highest percentage of victims are in the age group 35-44, however older victims (those 55 and over) are likely to lose twice as much per scam compared to younger age groups.

To combat the scammers in Inverness, trading standards officers are urging residents to bin scam mail as soon as it drops through their letterbox. To encourage this practice Highland Council Trading Standards will be placing Scamnesty bins/boxes inside service points throughout the Highlands to collect unwanted scam mailings.

Scamnesty boxes/bins can be found in the following Service Points:  Alness, Inverness, Hilton, Fort Augustus & Drumnadrochit, Invergordon, Wick, Dingwall, Aviemore, Thurso, Nairn, Dornoch, Golspie, Portree, Kyle, Ullapool and Muir of Ord.  Alternatively consumers can send postal scams directly to Highland Council Trading Standards Service, 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 IUF. 

Posters informing consumers of where to drop off their unwanted mailings will also be displayed throughout Highland Libraries.  

Scamnesty was piloted during Scams Awareness Month in February 2008 and around the country more than 15,000 mailings were received, helping raise consumer awareness and providing intelligence to aid the OFT’s investigations.

Anyone who thinks that they have been the victim of a scam, or suspects a scam, can call Consumer Direct for clear, practical advice on 08454 04 05 06

NOTES TO EDITORS

Issued on behalf of the Office of Fair Trading by Paul Burgess, COI NEWS & PR. Tel: 0131 244 9060; E-mail: paul.burgess@coi.gsi.gov.uk

2 Feb 2009
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