Residents in County Durham are being warned to be on their guard against scams.
Durham County Council’s trading standards team is supporting a national campaign aimed at helping residents to spot potential scams and avoid falling victim to them.
New national figures show that more than 22,000 reports of scams were made to the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline in the last 12 months.
But the figures don’t reflect the many more people who may have fallen victim to a scam and failed to report it.
To help people in County Durham spot the warning signs, leaflets are being made available in libraries, customer access points, Citizens Advice Bureaux and housing association offices with advice and information on common scams.
Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection at Durham County Council, said: “People are seeing their money go down the drain as con artists rip them off by promising lottery wins, work on their home or a new job, only to find there is nothing at the end.
“We are warning people to be on the look out for rogues looking to make a quick buck at their expense and reminding them that scams are crimes so it is vital that they are reported.”
Through the national campaign, consumers are being reminded that scams come in all shapes and sizes, including adverts, people knocking that the door, emails, letters, phone calls, texts and over the internet.
People are being warned to look out for key signs that something is a scam, such as being contacted out of the blue, being asked for money up front or being asked to keep things secret from family and friends.
People can get advice or report suspected scams by contacting the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
• Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.
• Often you can’t always get your money back if you’ve been scammed, especially if you’ve handed over cash.
• If you’ve paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.
• Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or online advice at
• The call, letter, e-mail or text has come out of the blue.
• You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about.
• You didn’t buy a ticket – so can’t win.
• They are asking you to send money in advance.
• They are saying you have to respond quickly, so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide.
• They are telling you to keep it a secret.
• They seem to be offering you something for nothing.
• If it seems too good to be true – it probably is.
•Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
• Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to the businesses that should already hold your details.
• Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.
• If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
• Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You.”
• Resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
• Never send money to someone you don’t know.
• Walk away from job adverts that ask for money in advance.
• Ask friends, neighbours or family about whether an offer is likely to be a scam.
Lotteries — A phone call, text or email proclaims a huge lottery win – even though the receiver hasn’t bought a ticket. In order to collect winnings you are asked to send money to cover “processing” or “administration” costs.
Phishing — an email (or Vishing for phone calls) pretending to be from your bank asking for you to update, validate or confirm details so that scammers can access your account.
SMShing – mobile phone text messages lure you onto fraudulent websites or invite you to call a premium rate mobile number or download malicious content via the phone or web.
Electricity meter credit – people on pre-payment meters are offered cut-price electricity but end up paying for their energy twice.  Criminals use cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally.  You end up paying for the energy twice – first to the fraudsters and then to the company at the correct rate.
Pyramid selling — This is an illegal trick where you are told you can earn money by recruiting new members to a money-making venture. In reality only a tiny minority make money, everyone else loses