February is national scam awareness month with an incredible £4 billion now given over to fraudsters every year in the UK. Herefordshire Council Trading Standards Service is warning consumers not to fall victim to this and to beware of the following top ten scams from 2010:-
1. Doorstep Crime- always top of the list. Anyone who cold calls you for property repairs will almost certainly be a rogue trader and charge excessive amounts for poor quality and unnecessary work, whether it is for driveways, roofing, garden/tree surgery or any other work. If you are trying to find a reputable trader then search the Herefordshire Council’s Trader Register at www.traderregister.org.uk/herefordshire or phone 01432 260746
2. Cold telephone calls falsely purporting to be from Microsoft, claiming you have a virus on your pc. They will take over your computer and charge you £80 when there is nothing wrong in the first place.
3. Small business scams:- cold calls pushing advertising in fictitious publications for the emergency services or schools etc and then sending you an invoice for £400. Also Companies who cold call you claiming to be able to reduce your business rates and others who claim to get you top of internet searches.
4. Calls falsely offering to get your credit card debts written off due to legal technicalities and then taking £400 off your credit card as payment.
5. Calls and emails offering low interest loans if you pay a large up front fee-usually by wiring the money abroad.
6. Cold calls offering free gifts-eg free alarm systems which come with an extortionate monitoring contract, free carpet cleans which are merely the hard sell on a vacuum cleaner costing up to £2400.
7. Timeshare resale/Holiday clubs:- those with existing timeshares coerced to a presentation by false promise of buying their timeshare- only to be conned into signing up for a holiday club costing £5000 or more.
8. Bogus charity collections – still as rife as ever and cost genuine charities millions every year.
9. Unsolicited calls that result in high pressure selling from unscrupulous traders for extortionately priced mobility aids such as – bath lifts, reclining chairs and scooters.
10. Last but not least Prize Draw Mailings, Scratchcards, usually asking you to ring a premium rate number and implying you will receive a much better prize than you actually do.
Principal Trading Standards Officer, Tim Thorne, says:- “Typically, it’s the elderly or vulnerable who fall victim to such scams. We can all therefore play our part and be vigilant to ensure that our relatives or neighbours don’t get conned !”
“There is a very simple rule to follow to avoid being a scam victim and that is NEVER deal with ANYONE who cold calls you at home, or on the telephone and put ALL unsolicited mail / flyers in your green recycling bin”.
For more information contact Tim Thorne At Trading Standards 01432 261697
Herefordshire Council: putting people first; providing for our communities.