Stay alert as scams rise, warning

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LANCASHIRE County Council’s Trading Standards service is urging residents to stay on their guard after an increase in numbers falling victim to criminal cons.

In the last 12 months, 356 victims of cold callers or scams from the county were reported compared with 50 the previous year.

The warning comes following a week of action by Trading Standards and Lancashire Constabulary to raise awareness among people who live in cold-calling hotspots, and roadside checks to remind traders of their responsibilities.

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “Tackling bogus traders is a top priority for Trading Standards and our number one piece of advice is simply never to do business with them.

“If a company uses pressure sales to try to get you to agree to have work done immediately, the alarm bells should start ringing.

“Reputable firms will not demand cash up front and will be happy to come back another day to give you time to think about it and get other quotes.”

Rogue Trader Week, a national campaign against dodgy traders, saw Trading Standards and Police speak to 100 traders to remind them of their responsibilities when carrying out work in people’s homes.

Age UK and Help Direct joined the fight by allowing Trading Standards to raise awareness among older people at nine of their events, and 150 doctors’ surgeries have agreed to display information about the dangers of bogus callers. Leaflets were also distributed to homes in hot-spots for complaints about pressure sales.

This year, Lancashire Trading Standards has received 356 complaints abou! t cold callers. Top concerns were property repairs such as building wo rk, driveways, and roofing, sellers of household goods such as mattresses , and bogus charity collectors.

Nearly 1,000 people have reported issues of unsolicited scam telesales calls and 356 complaints have been received regarding unwanted scam mail.

The county council’s Safe Trader scheme can help people find an honest and reliable trader so there’s no reason to risk signing up to anything on the doorstep. To find out more, visit www.safetrader.org.uk or call 0303 333 1111.

You can keep up to date on any new scam alerts sweeping the county by ‘liking’ Lancashire Trading Standards Facebook character Scambuster Stan at www.facebook.com/StanleyDards.