Halton Borough Council is warning scammers come in all different shapes and sizes – they can be male, female, young or old and from any country in the world – but what they all have in common is that they’re very skilled at persuading people to part with their money.
Research has shown that 45 – 60-year-olds are most impacted, and by a wide range of scams, often loosing large amounts of money. But there is also a disturbing rise in the number of 18-24 year-olds being scammed – and this is the group least likely to report a scam.
The warning comes at the start of Scam Awareness Month, which starts in July.
Scammers are often experts in human behaviour; waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting, the shopper short of time or the consumer looking for a bargain.
During National Scams Awareness Month, Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Halton Trading Standards and Citizens Advice Halton are raising awareness of the scams that can affect us all.
Some scammers will use phone calls, texts, letters, emails and pop-ups on websites whilst others will knock on your door and try to sell you poor quality and fake goods or take money for work to be done on your house or garden, which they fail to do.
Common scams can be about a lottery win or prize draw that you haven’t entered, investment opportunities that don’t exist, expensive miracle cures or weight loss products that don’t work and clairvoyants predicting future wealth and happiness on payment of a fee for lucky numbers.
Scammers will also target members of online dating groups, offering love and a relationship but then soon asking for money to cover travel costs so that a meeting is possible.
Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, Cllr Dave Cargill, said: “The message of this year’s Scams Awareness month is, ‘Play your part, act on scams’.
“We are calling on the public to be more aware of how they could be scammed, and to report it if they get caught out. With so many people being snagged by scammers there is no reason to be embarrassed – and every reason to report incidents and help the authorities put a stop to it.”
Halton Trading Standards officers been working with people who have been caught out by scams – some have lost hundreds of pounds whilst others have lost tens of thousands.
As well as losing money, being scammed has affected people’s health. One in three people said they had lost sleep and half said they felt embarrassed about being caught out by a scam. People talked about feeling swamped by the letters and intimidated by the number of cold calls.
Cllr Cargill continued: “The scammers are very clever and know exactly how to create a situation that makes people react without taking the time to think first.
“Anybody can be caught out by a scam when they are taken off-guard and so we really want to get the message out that there’s no need to feel embarrassed – the more we talk about scams the more we will protect ourselves, family and friends.”
The Trading Standards scams experts, Linda and Sue, will be out and about knocking on doors in areas that we know have been targeted by scammers and they’ll also be at the Halton Direct Links between 11 am and 2 pm on Wednesday 5 July (Widnes), Tuesday 11 July (Runcorn), Thursday 20 July (Runcorn) and Thursday 27 July (Widnes).
They’ll be easy to spot in bright pink t-shirts so please go along and talk to them!
If you can’t come along to one of sessions and you want to talk to us about scams contact Linda or Sue on 0151 511 8785 or 0151 511 8775, who are already working with people in Halton who have lost thousands of pounds to scams.
If you need advice on anything else please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.