The Office of Fair Trading is joining forces with Croydon Council this month to help fight fraudsters.
‘Scamnesty 2010’ calls on Croydon residents to collect any scam letters they receive and drop them into one of about thirty designated bins located at libraries,
council offices and other public areas around the borough.
According to a recent survey, nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam. Every year, 3.2 million adults – one in 15 people – across the country fall victim to a scam designed to con victims out of their cash. UK consumers lose around a staggering £3.5 billion to scams every year.
Fake lottery and prize draw wins, bogus psychic predictions, get-rich-quick investment cons and ‘miracle’ health cures are just some of the tricks used by scammers. The fraudsters behind them are often expert at exploiting people’s hopes and fears. They are delivered via telephone calls, letters, emails and text messages.
Councillor Gavin Barwell, cabinet member for safety and cohesion said: “Based on the national figures we think that as many as 20,000 Croydon residents may fall victim to one scam or another every year. That’s a huge number of people and something we have to address.
“This campaign will help us to clamp down on some of those responsible.”
It is estimated that few victims of scams report it to the authorities. The Scamnesty bins will therefore provide valuable new intelligence to the OFT and Croydon Council’s Trading Standards Service and help inform future investigations.
“Every day, people are at risk from unscrupulous fraudsters who want to con them out of their cash. By dropping any scam mail you receive into your local Scamnesty bin you will help provide crucial intelligence that may stop misery being brought to millions of people every year,” said Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director.
John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading said: “Scammers are using ever more sophisticated and cunning tactics to dupe people out of their cash. We want people to recognise the warning signs, and feel confident enough to seek advice from friends and family or from Consumer Direct.”
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty. Online scams can also be reported to a ‘virtual bin’ on the consumer direct website.