Get wise, don’t get scammed this summer

Birmingham residents are being urged to get wise to the tricks con artists and rogue traders use, by attending a series of free roadshows across the city in July.

During Scam Awareness Month, Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards officers are inviting people to come to these events, which aim to equip people with the skills to stop scams and scammers in their tracks.

  • 5 July: Tesco, Spring Hill, Camden Street, Hockley, 10am-2pm
  • 13 July: Sainsbury’s, Longbridge Lane, Longbridge  10am-2pm
  • 20 July: Sainsbury’s, 30 Mere Green Road, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield,  10am -2pm
  • 25 July: Nat West, 112a High Street, Kings Heath, 10am-3pm
  • 26 July: Shard End Community Centre, 170 Packington Avenue, Shard End, 10am-2pm
  • 28 July: Nat West, St Philip’s Place, Birmingham, 10am-3pm
  • 29 July: Ward End Fire Station, Washwood Heath Rd, Birmingham, 11am-4pm

This year people are being urged to ‘play your part, act on scams’ and report incidents to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Last year (2016/17) Birmingham’s Trading Standards officers received 4,372 complaints from consumers: 546 (12.5 per cent) of these related to scams, including:

  • 128 related to misdescription
  • 78 related to scam websites
  • 78 related to scam calls and texts
  • 60 related to unsolicited goods and services
  • 40 related to doorstep selling
  • 28 related to scam letters/mailshots
  • 26 related to holidays
  • 11 related to scam emails

The roadshows will highlight the tell-tale signs of fraud, from being made an offer that’s too good to be true, to being rushed into signing on the dotted line.

People may also be targeted through cold calls, high-pressure sales tactics or automated messages requesting their bank details – to get their hands on hard earned money.

CTSI research shows that ‘life experienced’ (aged between 40 and 60) and young people (aged 18 to 24) are the groups most likely to be targeted by scammers – and also the least likely to report incidents.

Trading Standards officers will also advise people how to speak up about a scam, which is key to getting them closed down, and how to go about reporting suspected fraud to the authorities.

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach, targeting people of all ages – not just the vulnerable or elderly. New scams are emerging all the time, so we’re keen to show people across Birmingham the common ‘hallmarks’ to look out for so they don’t fall prey to fraudsters.

“These Scam Awareness Month roadshows will give people with the opportunity to get advice and tips on how to protect themselves from unscrupulous traders and con artists.

“Reporting suspicious offers and incidents of fraud is vital to getting scams closed down – so if you think you’ve been scammed or contacted by a fraudster, seek advice and report it.”

Scam Awareness Month, which began on Saturday (1 July 2017), aims to educate people on how not to fall for scams, by following a three-step rule: get advice, report it and tell others about it.

Fraud victims pay a heavy price, losing billions of pounds every year. Scams targeting people by phone or post alone cost people in the UK an estimated £5 billion each year(1).

Informing the authorities and warning others is the only sure fire way of stopping scams, but people can be hesitant to even tell their friends and family.

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