A campaign has been launched to encourage more people to speak up and report scams.
“Don’t be rushed, don’t be hushed” is the theme for national Scams Awareness Month taking place throughout July.
It is thought that only 5% of those affected by a scam ever report it, hampering efforts to track down the criminals responsible, and get help to victims.
Every year millions of people across the UK, and thousands in Lancashire, fall prey to scammers, with the cost to victims estimated at £5bn nationwide. But the real cost could be far higher.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “It is thought that most victims of scams don’t report their experience because they feel a sense of shame, and simply want to forget what has happened and move on. Scams can affect anyone, from teenagers to the elderly, and can have a real impact on mental health as well as their finances, leading people to lose confidence and miss out on opportunities in life.
“Scammers operate by rushing people into making hasty decisions.
“During Scams Awareness Month we’re making a real push to get out the message that people should take their time to make a decision and get their facts together before parting with their money or personal information, and speak out when they think they’ve spotted a scam.”
Throughout Scams Awareness Month, Trading Standards officers will focus on raising awareness of the different types of scams, and how to avoid them, issuing advice on phone scams, online scams, mail scams and doorstep scams. Officers will also be visiting potential scam victims to return items of mail that have been intercepted on their way back to scammers containing cheques and bank details.
As a result of co-ordinated work with the National Trading Standards Scam Team, approximately 100 pieces of mail are awaiting return to people in Lancashire.
If you are unsure about an offer and believe it may be a scam, speak to family or friends, or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.
If you think you have been misled into paying money as a result of a scam contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
You can keep up to date with scams affecting Lancashire by ‘liking’ Scambuster Stan’s page at www.facebook.com/StanleyDards.