PEOPLE are being warned to be on their guard after reports of a number of scams operating in the Wellingborough area.
Those targeted are often elderly or vulnerable people who are tricked into revealing their bank details or paying upfront fees with the lure of huge rewards.
But as scam methods become more sophisticated and the current economic climate means that people are trying to manage more restricted finances, the amount of people falling victim to this type of crime is on the increase.
The most common types of scam include fake lotteries, prize draws and sweepstakes, advance fees and money transfers, ticketing, home working, health and slimming miracles, pay-in-advance credit, and investment opportunities.
Wellingborough Council says there have been a number of instances in Wellingborough of people being contacted and offered bogus home improvements, as well as telephone calls designed to trick people into revealing personal details that could be used for fraud.
According to the Trading Standards Institute, even after they realise they’ve been cheated out of their life savings, many people don’t report the crime as they are too embarrassed. This leaves the scammers free to carry on conning more victims, which is why the TSI has teamed up with Citizens Advice and Action Fraud to encourage people to speak out.
Wellingborough Council is backing the campaign to help put a stop to scams in the borough by asking anyone who receives scam mailings, or knows of anyone who has been a victim of scam mailings, to report it to the council, Citizens Advice or Action Fraud.
Cllr Peter Morrall, chairman of the council’s community committee said: “A number of residents have reported being contacted by telephone asking for personal details, making them suspicious that not everything was as it seemed. So we know that scammers are operating in our borough. What is more concerning is that there could be many more scams out there that we don’t know about as so few people actually report this type of crime, either because they fall victim to the scam and are embarrassed, or because they just hang up on the scammer or throw away the mailing and don’t give it a second thought.
“Anyone, of any age, can fall for scams, especially now as too-good-to-be-true offers and get-rich-quick schemes are appealing to people in difficult financial situations. For example, we know there are training scams that affect people who are hoping to improve their employment chances but defraud them of all their money instead. The scammers will only be stopped if people become aware of the types of scams that are operating so our advice is: if you think something might be a scam don’t reply – throw it away, delete it or hang up, and then most importantly tell someone about it so the information can be shared.”
The council is also encouraging people to remember the following tips to avoid the scammers:
Stop, think and be sceptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t be rushed into sending off money to someone you don’t know, however plausible they might sound and even where an approach is personalised.
Be wary of being asked to make a quick decision for example ‘if you don’t act now you’ll miss out’ as this puts you under pressure and doesn’t give you time to think.
Never give your bank details to people you don’t know, especially online. Your bank may contact you by email but will never ask you to confirm your user name or password by clicking on a link and visiting a website.
Be very sceptical about being contacted out of the blue by a company you don’t know, especially if they give a mobile number or PO box number as a contact for the company.
Always think about how much money you could lose from replying to a potential scam – it’s a gamble not worth taking. Speak to family or friends before sending off any money or giving out any personal details.
Scams can be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Citizens Advice on 08456 040 506. Concerned members of the public can drop off scam mailings to Wellingborough Council’s Swanspool House reception, where they will be forwarded onto the relevant authorities.