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Citizens Advice Bolton helps residents to combat scams

Citizens Advice Bolton helped tackle hundreds of cases last year where local people had been targeted by scams and conmen, according to new figures released today.

The numbers have been released as Citizens Advice launches Scams Awareness Month, highlighting how scams can flourish if they go unreported.

With only 5% of people who have been scammed reporting it to the authorities, the figures are thought to be a fraction of the total number of scams targeting people in the local area.

The campaign, supported by Trading Standards, is urging people to get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and warn others to help stop scams from spreading.

Analysis of more than 20,000 scams reported across the country between April 2014 and March 2015 also reveals that different types of scam use different methods to approach people:

●     Over a third (37 per cent) of cold call scams reported to the national charity are for professional and financial services.

●     2 in 5 of all postal scams are lotteries or prize draws, inviting people to claim a prize for a competition they haven’t entered.

●     4 out of 5 doorstep scams are to do with home improvements and household services. Common scams are around central heating, insulation and roofing, to gas and electricity supplies and people posing as tree surgeons.

●     2 in 5 internet scams are about personal goods and services including cosmetics that never arrive, beauty treatments that aren’t what they say on the tin and slimming pill subscription traps.

Richard Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Bolton, said:

“We’ve helped lots of people who have fallen victim of scam cases in the past year but we know there are likely to be many more cons at large. Reporting scams is the only way to get them closed down, so we’re asking people to inform the authorities to stop others from being targeted.

“If you’ve been scammed, or you’re worried about a potential scam, there are also ways in which we can help - you can contact our office or visit the Citizens Advice website for information on your next steps.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national Citizens Advice, said:

“Scams often prey on people's most pressing needs. Bogus investments, fake debt remedies and fraudulent bank services can devastate people's finances.

“Scams can thrive on silence. Con artists often try to pressure people into buying straight away, and not tell anyone about the deal. We’re urging people to talk about scams and report them to the authorities. This will stop scammers from getting away with it and avoid others falling foul of their cons.”

Twelve tell-tale signs for spotting scams

●     If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

●     If you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.

●     You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.

●     If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.

●     Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious.

●     Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.

●     Never send money to someone you have never met.

●     Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.

●     Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.

●     Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.

●     Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.

●     Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.

●      Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

If you spot a scam or believe you may have been scammed you can contact your local Citizens Advice or the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 (for advice in Welsh phone 03454 04 05 05).

Notes to editors

1)    Citizens Advice Bolton helped with 180 consumer issues from April 2014-March 2015.

2)    The Office of Fair Trading report ‘Research on impact of mass marketed scams’, from December 2006, found that fewer than 5 per cent of people reported scams to the authorities.

3)    From April 2014 - March 2015, Citizens Advice dealt with 20,689 fraud and scam cases. This comprises 14,933 cases dealt with by the Consumer Service, and 5,756 cases handled by local Citizens Advice.

4)    You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.

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