Column: Stay alert and spot the scam

Cold calling is a common tactic used by scammers
Cold calling is a common tactic used by scammers

This month is Scams Awareness Month and it’s important that residents are wary of the most common scams around.

The county council’s trading standards team has received move than 400 reports on scams in the last year, though it is estimated that only five-to-15 per cent of scams are reported.

Last year, Citizens Advice found that almost three quarters of people surveyed had been targeted by a scam in the previous two years.

Scams can leave lasting financial and psychological distress on victims and often come with a stigma which leaves victims embarrassed and unwilling to report the crime.

The most common scams to be wary of include: HMRC refund – where victims get emails and text messages with links to fake websites where their personal and financial information can be stolen.

Telephone Preference Service – a cold calling scam asking victims to verify their bank details (the real organisation would never do this).

Slow computer – scammers claim to be from Microsoft responding to notification that the victim’s computer has been running slow or has a virus they can fix for a fee.

Transferring money to another country– a common email scam out to trick victims into parting with money or sharing bank or credit card details.

Miracle cures – fake adverts promoting untested products.

Doorstep crime – a wide-ranging scam which often targets older and vulnerable people.

Fish sellers – a perennial doorstep scam where traders sell poor quality fish or hand over unwanted large quantities of fish with a large bill.

The Friends Against Scams scheme is helping to spread the word on how to spot and avoid scams in local communities.

To sign up to the scheme, visit its website at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk

Victims of scams should report their experience to Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.