Saj warns about scams and con tricks

July is Scams Awareness Month and Sajjad is highlighting how individuals and small businesses get conned by clever tricks that can leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Often victims are too ashamed to report what’s happened to them and fraudsters thrive on this as keeping quiet often means that scams continue to spread. If people receive junk mail, see suspicious door-to-door sales people in their area or get suspicious emails that raise concerns, they should talk to others and report to agencies like Trading Standards.

Commenting on such scams Sajjad said:

“Things have changed since the age-old double glazing sales and scams are now very sophisticated. Using mail, email and the internet, scammers target people and businesses with anything from claiming winnings from a prize draw, applying for jobs, through to very clever investment proposals and even masquerading as charities.

“As a local Member of the European Parliament I am often contacted by constituents about theses scams, some of which are run internationally. There are two scams in particular that I have received a lot of correspondence about. The “European City Guide”, a business directory scam who send out spoof invoices to companies for adverts they haven’t placed. More recently the “UK Corporate Portal” is a scam who sends letter that look as if they are from HMRC to local businesses. The letter claims that due to changes to the EU regulations, the UK Corporate Portal is required to update companies’ business data. The letter includes a form for businesses to check and sign to say their details are correct, but the small print indicates a cost of £797 will be incurred by the business, for a minimum of three years.

“It can be very hard to know what is genuine as many scams are run by professional con artists. Don’t get carried away, take time and think before you make a decision and never give anyone your bank details. Your bank will never phone or email you and ask for your personal financial information.

“If you’ve paid by credit card you have more protection than a debit card but you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback. But you can’t always get your money back, particularly if you’ve paid cash.”

Scam Awareness month is being promoted by Trading Standards so if you think you have been scammed, contact your local Trading Standards or Citizens Advice who also give online advice www.adviceguide.org.uk

In addition there are several useful web sites who provide consumer information, these are: The European Consumer Centre: http://www.ukecc.net/ and Your European Advice http://europa.eu/youreurope/advice/index_en.htm