Consumers, in particular the elderly, are being warned to be aware of rip-offs and rogue traders.
Citizens Advice says that the people looking for credit, wanting to switch household bills to save money and those looking for work are those most likely to be exploited.
The 5 most common rip-offs in a recent Citizens Advice survey were:
Fake lotteries & prizes
Debt advice firms that charge big fees but don’t sort out the problem
Loan offers where consumers pay fees but then don’t get a loan
Rogue builders taking money for shoddy, incomplete or non-existent work
Doorstep energy salesmen who make promises about savings but where the consumer ends up paying more.
As a result of No 5 (shown above) the Big 6 energy suppliers have now stopped door-to-door sales.
Another such problem is illegal letters that are being sent by criminals to defraud people such as the elderly, out of their money and life savings.
Mail con tricks are a silent crime as those who fall victim do not realise until it is too late and don’t tell people what has happened. Older people are particularly at risk because they tend to be more trusting. They are less likely to have internet access and do not realise just how many cons there are out there. For more information on this, please click on: www.thinkjessica.com
Your 5-point safety list
Be sceptical: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If in doubt, bin it, delete it or just hang up and put the phone down.
Always take your time: A genuine offer should not demand an instant decision.
Check who you are dealing with: Whether you are contacted by post, phone or on the doorstep, find out who the offer is coming from. Ask friends for their advice and check with a trusted organisation such as Citizens Advice, Consumer Direct or the Trading Standards Institute. For financial offers, check with the Financial Services Authority.
Do not give out any of your details: Never give out your bank account information or other personal data, such as your date of birth or passwords to someone you do not know. Genuine firms, such as your bank will not ask for this.
Stay private: Block junk mail by registering with the Mail Preference Service via: www.mpsonline.org.uk 0845 7034599. The Telephone Preference Service is via: www.tpsonline.org.uk 0845 0700707. Or you can register for both at once with Consumer Direct’s service via: www.stayprivate.org. It is free to register.