Officers are also warning people not to be rushed into making a decision straight away and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
The advice comes at the start of national Scam Awareness Month, with the force highlighting and spreading consumer protection messages throughout July.
It is estimated that the total loss each year by UK consumers through phone and post scams is £5 billion. One in ten people have fallen victim to financial scams losing hundreds, sometimes thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Other advice includes:
- don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away
- if it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
- never send or give money to people you have never met or don’t trust
- if you are contacted out of the blue – be suspicious
- your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your PIN, payment card or cheque book if you are a victim of fraud
DC Mark Burslem, of Staffordshire Police, said, “Scams aren’t a minor inconvenience: they cause distress and misery, they ruin lives in some cases and, even when the financial losses are relatively low, they can lead to a loss of confidence.
“We want people to take a moment, trust their gut instinct so that they: get advice, report scams and tell others about their experiences.
“People who have been a victim of a scam or fraud can feel ashamed or embarrassed so don’t report it. Please don’t feel like this’ after all the con artists are very convincing and believable.”
Eight common scams are:
- Investment – victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back
- Fake services – people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising
- Vishing – con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details – for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills
- Doorstep selling – victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice
- Upfront payment or fee – fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job
- Premium rate texts – victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each
- Counterfeit goods – people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events
- Goods not received – people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites
To find out more about the different scams and frauds, to report an incident, or to sign up to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message contact www.actionfraud.police.uk or phone on 0300 123 2040.