Scam prevention system ‘fragmented and underequipped’Consumers aren't adequately protected from scams

15 June 2011

Scams and fraud

Always be on your guard to help protect yourself from scams

A report has concluded that the system supposed to protect consumers from scams is ‘fragmented and significantly underequipped’, leaving people exposed to criminal activity that could cost them billions of pounds.

The National Audit Office (NAO) says that Trading Standards departments, which are facing funding cuts, are using two incompatible databases to share information. Some departments are also reluctant to conduct investigations that go beyond their local areas, which the NAO claims leads to losses of more than £4.8bn a year for consumers.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: ‘Consumers in this country believe they are well-protected but the reality does not support this view. The system for enforcing consumer law is fragmented and significantly underequipped to tackle a whole range of serious consumer scams.’

Scams and how to protect yourself

Bogus email scams, doorstep mis-selling, rogue trading and investment scams such as boiler rooms cost consumers huge sums every year. It may be tempting to believe you’d never fall victim yourself – but criminals’ tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and many people who are hurt by scams are surprised afterwards that they were taken in.

Visit the Which? Consumer Rights website website for advice on avoiding all types of scams, and how to get your money back if you're caught out.

If you’re concerned about card fraud and identity fraud, you can read more about how to protect yourself in our online and guides.

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.