Advice on hand for residents to avoid scams

As part of Scams Awareness Month Merton Council are organising a drop-in session at the Civic Centre in Morden, advising residents on scam pitfalls.

The session will be held on Friday 30 May between 10am-2pm, with members from Merton’s trading standards team on hand to answer any questions.

As well as holding a workshop, Merton’s trading standards team will be visiting residents who are at risk of falling victim to financial abuse at the hands of scammers.

A recent incident in Merton resulted in a resident losing over £5,500. The scammers found out that the resident had been injured in an accident and used this information to convince him that they would give him the compensation he was entitled to. But before receiving his compensation, the resident was told to buy online vouchers and provide the voucher numbers over the telephone. He provided several payments over a few months and did not receive anything in return. As well as visiting and advising the resident on how to spot a scam so he doesn’t fall victim again, Merton’s trading standards team are working closely with the police to track down where the vouchers were paid into.

Merton’s director for environment and regeneration, Chris Lee said: “Scams come in all shapes and sizes and can leave people hundreds or thousands of pounds worse off.  We will continue helping people in Merton spot and report scams. We are advising people to speak to family and friends to make sure they are aware of the warnings signs of a scam to stop them being ripped off. Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.”

Citizens Advice Bureau chief executive, Gilian Guy said: “Scammers are picking the pockets of millions of innocent people. Pensioners and hard-up households face invasion through their computers, phones, letterboxes, and on the doorstep.

“People who are already struggling to put food on the table, let alone save money day-to-day, are being fleeced of their hard-earned cash. It is disgraceful that scammers are often targeting elderly people with sophisticated scams such as posing as their bank or phone company. We are running Scams Awareness Month to encourage people to fight back against the fraudsters pushing their cons into the nation’s homes by reporting those scams.”

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Notes to editors

Fraud offences in England and Wales rose by 25% in 2013, compared with the previous year, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. Nationally, the Citizens Advice Bureau has calculated up to four million people could be scammed each year as many scams go unreported.

Top tips for dealing with scams

  1. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  2. Never give out your bank details or send money unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you.
  3. Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
  4. Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card, ask for your PIN or come to your home.
  5. Make sure the website’s secure, if you are buying online – check for the padlock or “https” next to the web address
  6. It you haven’t bought a ticket you can’t win it.
  7. You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
  8. Pressure to make a decision straight away? Take your time and just say: “No thank you”.
  9. Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
  10. Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
  11. Don’t suffer in silence – tell others about scams.

What to do if you have been scammed

  • Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.
  • Often you can’t get your money back if you’ve been scammed, especially if you’ve handed over cash.
  • If you’ve paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.
  • Get advice and report scams to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 (for advice in Welsh phone 08454 04 05 05) or online advice at