Selling scam numbers rise by 14%

Bogus selling scams have risen by 14 per cent, according to Citizens Advice. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Bogus selling scams have risen by 14 per cent, according to Citizens Advice. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A 14 per cent jump in bogus selling scams has been recorded by Citizens Advice officials over the last year.

The number of people contacting the body’s consumer helpline in Scotland about the issue has risen from 1,429 in 2012/13 to 1,631 the following year.

It means that 31 people every week are, on average, getting in touch to report a fraudulent scheme.

The figures, believed to represent “the tip of the iceberg”, were released by Citizens Advice Scotland as it joined forces with other organisations to launch Scams Awareness Month.

With an estimated three million people falling victim to swindlers in the UK every year, officials believe anyone is susceptible to a scam.

But there are clear steps people can take to “fight back” and stamp out scammers, campaigners insist.

Daniel Gray, from Citizens Advice Scotland’s community action team, said: “We want everyone to join in a huge national effort to beat scammers.

“That means being more vigilant, spreading the word and reporting any scams you come across - even if you don’t personally become a victim.

“Although we’ve seen a 14 per cent jump in the number of bogus selling scams in the last year, which is worrying in itself, we suspect that that really is only the tip of the iceberg. Often, people don’t come forward when they encounter a scam.

“But what is really positive, is that after Scams Awareness Month last year, 105 per cent more scams were reported to us by the general public.

“Hopefully, we’ll see even more civic-minded people come forward this year, and all year round, to help us beat the scammers.”

Mr Gray said research has shown that, while half of people have experienced some kind of criminal scam, only 5% report it.

Those behind the campaign - Citizens Advice Scotland, the Trading Standards Institute and Police Scotland - say signs of a scam include:

• Calls, letters, e-mails or texts coming out of the blue.

• People asking for money to be sent in advance.

• People who seem to be offering something for nothing.

• They are telling you to keep something a secret.

Brian Smith, of the Trading Standards Institute, said: “If you spot what you think is a scam or think you have been scammed, report it to the Citizens Advice helpline and help us to stop it.

“The sooner we can find out about scams, the sooner we can intervene: take down websites, redirect mail, block phone calls. This helps everybody.

“And remember, look out for the vulnerable in our society; they are specifically targeted by the scammers.

“They could be your parents, grandparents or someone who has physical or mental health issues. Spot a scam, protect yourself and your loved ones and stop the scammers by reporting it.”

The Citizens Advice consumer service can be contacted on 08454 040506 while Action Fraud can be reached on 0300 123 2040.