Consumers are being asked to speak up against con artists as part of Scams Awareness Month, by reporting any potential fraud to the authorities.
The Trading Standards Institute, Citizens Advice and Action Fraud have teamed up to encourage consumers to shop fraudsters. One recent trend has seen an increase in fake letters claiming to come from the Ministry of Justice.
The letters state that the recipient has been identified as being a victim of protection insurance mis-selling, including PPI – if they pass on their account details so a small administration fee can be levied, they are told they will receive a lump sum.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: ‘These are callous fraudsters who target people they believe are vulnerable to scams, often seeking out those who might already be struggling with debt. I would urge the public to be on their guard and not to hand over any money until completely confident a company is legitimate, and to contact the authorities immediately if they are concerned.’
Scams Awareness Month
The authorities are promoting Scams Awareness Month throughout May 2012. Anyone who receives a potentially fraudulent email or letter can also take a copy to one of the numerous local libraries that are supporting the campaign.
Billions of pounds lost to con artists
It is estimated that fraud costs people more than £73 billion a year. However, most people don’t report this crime, largely because they are embarrassed to have been targeted by the criminals.
Peter Wilson, director of Action Fraud, said: ‘Whether you’ve lost money or not, we want to know what’s happened. All information is good information when it comes to tracking down those responsible for the network of scams that continue to plague people, particularly the elderly, daily.’
The campaign is also seeking to highlight ways to spot and avoid scams. These include advice to:
- Stop before responding to any unsolicited correspondence. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Consider why you may have received the correspondence or call, and whether it is likely that you are just one of several hundreds of people to be approached.
- Remember that if you give your financial details to a third party you could lose a considerable sum of money.
- If you are unsure about the validity of any contact from what seems to be a legitimate company or authority contact them using the official number as found on their website or in directories. Do not click through to links or call phone numbers shown in the suspect correspondence. These are likely to be fake, too.
Anyone who has received a fraudulent email, phone call or letter which appears to be promising re-payments for PPI, cash prizes for lotteries and prize draws in return for the payment of an advance fee should contact Action Fraud (0300123 2040) or Citizens Advice (08454 040506).
If you have received a scam letter or email, you can also contact email@example.com, and we’ll look into it.
- Scams – what you can do to avoid being scammed
- Protecting yourself – how to bank safely online and avoid fraud
- ID fraud – How to protect your privacy