Dorset residents being ripped off by fake disability-badge websites and prize draws ( 40 a month )

DORSET County Council is cracking down on scams after 40 scams a month were reported, on average, last year.

Scams reported to Dorset Trading Standards (DTS) included fake disability-badge websites, prize draws, clairvoyance services, holidays and quasi-health products.

DTS service manager, Ivan Hancock said: “When we’re talking about scams we’re talking about blatant attempts to rip people off.”

DTS, which covers Dorset county excluding Bournemouth and Poole, received 104 complaints in November alone.

Mr Hancock said that people who were elderly or isolated were more likely to repeatedly fall victim to scams.

“All of us need to make sure our relatives and neighbours are not getting scammed,” he said.

“People only find out they’re being scammed when they get to a crisis point.”

Mr Hancock said DTS was taking preventative measures as it was incredibly difficult to track down many scammers because they operated abroad and were outside UK jurisdiction.

He added DTS was working with Action Fraud and the National Trading Standards Scam Team to offer victims help and support.

“We are trying to prevent or intervene where people have become a repeat victim,” he said.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), scams cost UK citizens almost £10 billion a year and last year and accounted for 3.6million crimes in England and Wales.

The LGA warned this may be the tip of the iceberg, as only five per cent of scams were reported, and has urged victims to come forward.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “It’s important that victims don’t suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being a victim and help councils track down the fraudsters, bring them to justice and recover their money.”

Mr Hancock said currently the biggest telephone scam involved scammers pretending to be from a reputable computer company who told victims there was a problem with the set-up of their PC.

“Before you know it, they have accessed your computer and have taken your bank details,” he said.

He said other popular scams included fake calls from banks and fraudulent online sales.

Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for economy, education, learning and skills, Cllr Deborah Croney, said: “We want to prevent Dorset residents from falling victim to these fraudsters, particularly the most vulnerable and isolated.

“Raising awareness is key, and our trading standards officers have close links with adult social care teams to help others identify potential scams.”

To report a scam or access advice call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06, Action Fraud or go to dorsetforyou.gov.uk/trading-standards/consumers

Source: http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/15461919.40_scams_a_month__Dorset_residents_being_ripped_off_by_fake_disability_badge_websites_and_prize_draws/?ref=rss

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