Top tips to beat the scammers

National Trading Standards' 'Take a Stand Against Internet Scams' poster.
National Trading Standards' 'Take a Stand Against Internet Scams' poster.

Citizens Advice Northumberland is spreading the word about scams to help stop more people from being conned.

The charity is taking part in Scams Awareness Month throughout July, a campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams.

The drive to get more people reporting comes as national Citizens Advice reveals a 17 per cent increase in people being scammed after purchasing ‘phantom goods’.

It works by conning shoppers into buying high value items online, which turn out not to exist. People were most likely to be scammed when buying cars, flights and furniture. Other ‘phantom goods’ included jewellery and cameras.

Citizens Advice consumer service received 555 reports of ‘phantom goods’ scams between January and March 2017, compared with 495 the year before.

Scams aren’t just a minor inconvenience. Aside from financial loss, they can cause distress and misery, and even if a scam has been avoided, it can lead to a loss of consumer confidence.

Northumberland County Council Trading Standards is warning people to be aware of calls that claim to be from the Inland Revenue.

There have been a small number of reports of residents receiving an automated recording announcement that the Inland Revenue is preparing a case against them and if they want to speak to the office they should press “1”.

Details reported by Action Fraud state that those who press the button are advised that there is a warrant out in their name and if they don’t pay, the police will arrest them.

David Sayer, the council’s Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager, said: “Trading Standards is increasingly alarmed by the callous lengths that some cold-calling telesales operations will go to to get well-meaning consumers and businesses to part with their hard-earned money.”

Moira Macfarlane, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Northumberland said: “Imposters claiming to be from Citizens Advice are cold calling people offering help with accident claims, loan offers and help with debt problems.

“We will never contact you to sell you something or offer you a loan. If you are cold called or get a text about things of this kind, it is almost certainly a scam.”

If you suspect a scam don’t give or confirm any personal information, report the call immediately to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk or contact your local Citizens Advice for free, confidential, impartial, advice.

If you have used the service, including its consumer helpline, and given permission to contact you, you may receive a call from Citizens Advice or one of its partners to get your feedback.

During Scams Awareness Month the service is encouraging people to play their part in preventing scams by reporting them and telling others about them.

People can also visit Citizens Advice, or call its consumer service if they want advice on whether something is a genuine deal or a scam, or for advice if they have been scammed.

Advice

• Get advice on an offer, or find out how you can get your money back if you’ve been scammed, from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.

• Report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk

• To cut down on unwanted contacts register your phone number with the Telephone Preference Service at www.tpsonline.org.uk or 0345 070 0707. You can register a mobile by texting ‘TPS’ and your email address to 85095.

• Report unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner’s Office at https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing or 0303 123 1113.

• People who want to report potential scam mail can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail, phone 03456 113413, or email scam.mail@royalmail.com