Watch out for scams
Published on 6th August 2012
Sandwell Trading Standards today issued an urgent warning to the public after an increase in scams where people are contacted by people falsely claiming to be from legitimate organisations.
Scammers trick members of the public by suggesting to the person they are calling that they could be owed money - often for repayment of bank charges, payment protection insurance (PPI), or a court settlement.
But as part of the scam they first ask for an up front payment from the consumer in order to enable them to receive the money.
Mark Beesley, area trading sandards officer, said: "These callers have no connection with the Ministry of Justice, HM Courts & Tribunals, Action Fraud, leading banks or other genuine articles.
"Fraudsters have already tricked and harassed some victims into handing over thousands of pounds, only for them to find that the call was a fake.
"Genuine organisations would never contact consumers asking them for personal bank details, or request an up front payment by money transfer. "
Mr Beesley said that anyone who has given personal bank details should contact their bank immediately to stop or check any unauthorised transactions.
"Do not transfer money unless you are absolutely confident the company is legitimate," he said.
"These callers are apathetic fraudsters who target consumers vulnerable to these scams, such as those who might already be struggling with debt," he added.
"Consumers should be wary of these scams and our advice is to never hand over money or share personal details until you are absolutely confident a company is legitimate."
The bogus callers often ask consumers to use electronic money transfer services such as Ukash vouchers or Paysafecard to provide an upfront payment.
In some cases it was possible for money transfer providers to block payments made if they are alerted promptly. Ukash can be contacted on 00800 0008 5274, and Paysafeguard on 0845 021 3059; both are 24 hour helplines.
In order to appear genuine and legitimate, the calls or contact numbers appear to be from London, although frequently the contact actually originates from outside the UK.
Cabinet member for neighbourhood services Councillor Ian Jones said: "Fraudsters will tell you anything to get their hands on your cash.
"They think nothing of using the names of legitimate organisations to convince you to hand over your money.
"I would urge anyone receiving cold calls purporting to come from legitimate organisations, to think very carefully before handing over money or sharing personal details."
Anyone who believed they had been a scam victim should report the matter to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, who will pass on the reports to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau who analyse fraud information with a view to passing it to the police for further information.