Fraud victims have been urged not to suffer in silence after it was revealed almost three complaints a week were being made about scams in South Tyneside.
There is a warning those figures could be the tip of the iceberg, with the Local Government Association (LGA) saying just 5% of scams are reported.
South Tyneside Council received 151 complaints relating to scams in 2016.
Councils across the country are cracking down on criminals running shams ranging from fake online dating and disability parking badge sites, to bogus diamond investment schemes and weight-loss devices.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety, said: “One of the best ways we can help to stop them in their tracks is by reporting them to the authorities.
“This helps to provide essential intelligence to assist enforcement agencies in shutting down illegal operations. We would strongly urge people to report these predatory practices so that action can be taken.”
We would strongly urge people to report these predatory practices so that action can be takenCoun Moira Smith
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We advise members of the public to never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password to anyone. Never assume an email or phone call is authentic and we advise you ask for information and hang up if you feel uncomfortable or anxious. The public should always be strict when talking to people online or at their door, you will never be pressured by a genuine organisation so ask questions if you are concerned.
“Always ask for proof of identification and if you ever feel uncomfortable close your door, log off or hang up.”
For tips about how to avoid scams, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/tradingstandards or call South Tyneside’s Trading Standards Team on 0191 424 7887.
Anyone who thinks they may have been the victim of a scam can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Advice is also available from Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.