Council offer advice to avoid being scammed

Coun Tracey Dixon is calling on South Tynesiders to expose scams.
Coun Tracey Dixon is calling on South Tynesiders to expose scams.

South Tyneside Council is cracking down on scammers as part of national Scams Awareness Month.

South Tyneside Trading Standards team has joined forces with Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute to promote the initiative locally.

Our advice is that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Coun Tracey Dixon

The theme of this year’s campaign, which runs throughout July, is ‘Don’t be Rushed, Don’t be Hushed.’

Statistics show that less than 5% of victims report scams to the authorities – a figure this year’s campaign is keen to change.

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “We know that people are rushed into hasty decisions by scammers and this campaign aims to put a stop to that.

“We also want to stop people being hushed into silence by scammers who tell them that they need to keep all details of their ‘prize’ secret and urge them not even to tell family members. The fraudsters behind the scams thrive on this silence in order to keep bombarding people with letters demanding more money for ‘prizes’ which results in scams spreading unchecked.

“Scams are run by professional con artists and it can be very hard to know what to look out for. Our advice is that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The first week of this year’s campaign, from Thursday, July 2, will focus on phone scams while the second week will turn the spotlight on online scams. Examples of such scams are when people receive a cold call to say they can have their computer fixed for free or where fraudsters impersonate someone from a bank, the police or other legitimate organisation in the hope of collecting someone’s account details.

Coun Dixon added: “For some of us, unwanted calls are just a nuisance. For others, especially our older and vulnerable residents, they can cause real anxiety and upset. It’s time to speak up and expose these scams and the unscrupulous people who carry them out.”

Residents are advised to follow these top tips for dealing with scams:

· If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

· Never give out bank details or send money unless you are certain the person in contact can be trusted.

· Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.

· Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card, ask for your PIN or come to your home.

· Make sure the website is secure. If buying online, check for the padlock or “https” next to the web address.

· Suspect a phone scam? Hang up and wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone.

· People shouldn’t have to pay anything to get their prize.

· Pressure to make a decision straight away? Don’t be afraid to take your time and just say: “No thank you”.

· Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.

· Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

· Don’t suffer in silence - tell others about scams.

To cut down on unwanted calls, register for free with the Telephone Preference Service at www.tpsonline.org.uk

For advice or to report scams to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice Consumer Service ring 03454 04 05 06 or email

trading.standards@southtyneside.gov.uk