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Warning over scams in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 17:08 04 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 03 July 2010

NORFOLK County Council Trading Standards is reminding people to be vigilant in spotting and reporting scams, as the results of this year's 'Scamnesty' were revealed.

NORFOLK County Council Trading Standards is reminding people to be vigilant in spotting and reporting scams, as the results of this year's 'Scamnesty' were revealed.

To coincide with the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) Scam Awareness Month in February this year, Norfolk County Council Trading Standards placed scam mail bins in libraries across the county and encouraged residents to fill them with any mail that had come through their door that they thought might be a scam. By the end of February, 322 items of mail were put in the bins, the majority of which were for prize draws. Nationally, 6,000 mailings were collected during Scam Awareness Month.

The scam mailings provided crucial intelligence to Trading Standards departments and the OFT, and have helped inform investigations that will prevent others from being scammed. However, residents and businesses in Norfolk are being reminded to be alert to the warning signs of scams and how they can protect themselves.

Harry Humphrey, cabinet member for fire and community protection at the county council, said: “As long as there are dishonest people in the world who can see an opportunity to make a fast buck, there will unfortunately be scams. However, our Trading Standards department is working hard to protect people in Norfolk, by helping to prevent scammers from trading and raising awareness of scams and the techniques that scammers use. Remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

A 66-year-old man from central Norfolk who wishes to remain anonymous lost over £4,000 to five separate bogus lotteries at the beginning of this year. He said: “I would not have lost this money to these people if I had just put these mailings into a Scamnesty box.”

Some of the most common scam mails received include get-rich-quick schemes, sweepstakes, prize draws, lotteries and clairvoyants. Mailings are just one method used, with scammers also conning people out of money over the phone, in person and by email.

Trading Standards officers are currently warning Norfolk residents about a number of scams that have recently surfaced, including an email scam that implies the receiver will get a tax rebate if they fill in an online form that discloses their personal information. On the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards website it states that: “HM Revenue and Customs would not inform anyone of a tax rebate by email or invite them to complete an online form to receive a tax rebate. They also advise not to visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.”

To report a scam or for more information call the Consumer Direct Helpline on 08454 04 05 06. Norfolk residents and businesses can receive current known scam threats by signing up to receive free email scam alerts at www.norfolk.gov.uk/scams.

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