Scams by con artists have cost Plymouth residents around £600,000 in recent years and Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards is working with Citizens Advice to raise awareness of consumer rights.
The figure is revealed as we mark National Consumer Week (27 November to 1 December 2017) – follow our local hashtag #ConsumerWeekPlym or the national one #NCW17 to find out more.
Scams by tricksters in the city have affected 650 known victims and locally, Trading Standards want to make people aware of what to look out for. Nationally it is estimated scams targeting people by phone or post alone cost people in the UK an estimated £10 billion each year.
The theme of this year’s National Consumer Week is ‘Not what you signed up for?’ focusing on the growing problem of people being locked into subscriptions that they either didn’t sign up for or where they have experienced issues with cancelling recurring payments.
Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities for Plymouth City Council, said: “It is really important that people know what to look out for, both with scams and with subscriptions.
“The scammers deliberately prey on the vulnerable and more isolated, often elderly people, and once a person sends their money, their name is added to a scams list which is sold to other criminals and they are retargeted.
“Also the 650 cases in Plymouth that we know of are just the tip of the iceberg which we believe only account for a small percentage of cases.
“In addition to scam awareness, we are supporting the national campaign ‘Not what you signed up for?’ as we know that nationally there have been many consumer complaints around subscriptions, so please be vigilant.”
Alex Fry, Trading Standards Manager at the Council, said: “If you think your parents, grandparents, partner or friends are receiving large quantities of mail or nuisance phone calls that potentially could be a scam, please don’t hesitate to contact Trading Standards or Citizens Advice for help.”
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, said: “Raising awareness of the issues facing consumers is key to tackling consumer detriment. National Consumer Week offers Trading Standards the chance to actively engage with consumers on a local and national level, on the big issues that can affect millions.”
What to look out for:
- Cold calling on the telephone or in person – in Plymouth there have been instances of residents saying they had been contacted by callers claiming to be from the Council offering compensation for accidents.
- High pressure sales tactics – do not feel pressured into signing up for something on the spot.
- Automated voicemails asking for people’s bank and personal details.
- Mass-marketed direct mails with often misleading messages such as ‘You have won a prize’, which then turn out to be a scam.
- Online subscriptions in which a customer signs up for a trial, fixed term deal, or a promotion where it is unclear that the consumer will be auto-enrolled into ongoing payments.
- Products being advertised as free samples, where consumers are asked to pay for postage and packaging – then the customer finds larger amounts routinely taken from their bank account.
- More information
- You can get advice or report a scam contact Trading Standards on 01752 304147 or Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06. You can also report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 actionfraud.police.uk