Council calls on consumers to fight fraudsters 

17/02/10

 Bolton council is urging residents to fight back against the fraudsters who send out scam mailings as part of a ‘Scamnesty’ campaign running throughout the borough in February.

The nationwide ‘Scamnesty’ campaign by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair
Trading (OFT), aims to help end the scourge of mass marketed scam mailings in the UK, by urging people to collect any scam mailings they receive and drop them into designated ‘Scamnesty’ bins located around Bolton.

The ‘Scamnesty’ bins will be located at all libraries and one Stop Shops across Bolton, as well as Age Concern and Bolton Citizens Advice Bureau in Bolton.

The letters will then be collected by the council’s trading standards staff and used by them to uncover local scams.

Nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam. Every year,
3.2 million adults – one in 15 people – across the country fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails, which are designed to con victims out of their cash. UK consumers lose around a staggering £3.5 billion to scams every year.

In 2009, residents in nearly 100 local authorities dropped more than 15,000 scam mailings in Scamnesty bins across the country and in Bolton, over 100 scams were uncovered. The campaign revealed the top five mass-marketed scam mailings in the UK at that time were deceptive sweepstakes, misleading prize draws, fake clairvoyants/psychics, bogus foreign lotteries and ‘miracle’ health cures.

Councillor Nick Peel, Executive Member for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Regulations commented: “This is a really worthwhile campaign. Every day, people across Bolton are at risk from unscrupulous fraudsters who want to con them out of their cash. The victims of these scams can be elderly or confused and once they respond they become the victim of repeat scams. Some can even receive hundreds of scam letters every week, using up life savings to pay the demands and trying to hide what is happening from family or friends.

“In Bolton we estimate that 13,000 people fall victim to scams every year losing an incredible £15 million!

“We would urge everyone to drop your scam mailings into one of the Scamnesty bins. You will be helping protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The Scamnesty bins will provide valuable new intelligence to the OFT and our trading standards officers and will help inform future investigations, which will prevent others from being scammed.”

1. The Office of Fair Trading estimates that over 3 million people in the UK fall victim to mass marketed scams every year, collectively losing £3.5 billion. Fewer than 5 per cent of victims report their experience – one reason the OFT and local authority Trading Standards Services carried out the biggest ever public reporting drive for scam mailings.

2. Trading Standards advice to anyone who receives a possible scam offer is: ‘Stop, think, and think again’. Do not be rushed into sending off money straight away to someone you do not know. How likely is it that you have been especially chosen for this offer? Thousands of other people are likely to have received the same offer. Think again – read the offer carefully. If you are unsure, speak to family or friends or seek advice.

3. Scamnesty bins will be located at the following addresses throughout February:

Central Library, Le Mans Crescent BL1 1SE
Astley Bridge Library, Moss Bank Way BL1 8NP
Blackrod Library, Church Street BL6 5EQ
Bromley Cross Library, The Crescent BL7 9JR
Castle Hill Library, Castle Hill Centre, Castleton Street, Tonge Moor BL2 2JW
Farnworth Central Library, Market Street BL4 7PG
Harwood Library, Gate Fold  BL2 3HN
Heaton Library, New Hall Lane BL1 5LF
High Street Library, High Street, Bolton BL3 6SZ
Highfield Library, Orchards (Lower Site), Highfield Road, Farnworth BL4 0NS
Horwich Library, Jones Street BL6 7AJ
Little Lever Library, Coronation Square BL3 1LP
Oxford Grove Library, 105 Shepherd Cross Street, Bolton BL1 3EJ
Westhoughton Library, Library Street BL5 3AT
Withins Neighbourhood Library, Bolton St Catherine's Academy, Newby Road, Bolton BL2 5JB

Bolton Town Hall, Victoria Square BL1 1RU
Farnworth Town Hall, Market Street BL4 7PD
Westhoughton Town Hall, Market Street BL5 3AW
Horwich Council Office, Horwich Public Hall, Lee Lane BL6 7AQ
Blackrod Library, Church Street BL6 5EQ

Age Concern, 72-74 Ashburner Street, Bolton BL1 1TN
CAB, 26-28 Mawdsley Street, Bolton BL1 1LF

 

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Media contact
Joanne Cooke
01204 333582