Advice to avoid summer scams

Joe Michna pictured utside the Park Road citizens advice bureau.
Joe Michna pictured utside the Park Road citizens advice bureau.

CITIZENS’ advice bosses have joined a national campaign aimed at cracking down on summertime scams.

Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), in Park Road, is warning people to be on their guard against conmen looking to prey on concert-goers, holiday-makers and those looking for love.

More than 22,000 reports of scams were made to the Citizens’ Advice service in England and Wales between April 2012 and March this year, with three million falling victim to cons costing individuals a total of £3.5bn nationally a year.

Joe Michna, manager of the Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Scammers see pound signs as they seek to take advantage of holidaymakers, concert lovers and those looking to meet someone to enjoy the summer with.

“There are things you can do to keep rogues at bay, like checking you are on a secure payment site if paying online, where possible paying by credit card and looking to see if traders are authorised, for example checking a holiday firm is ATOL bonded.

“Ultimately, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Summer scams include fake event tickets through scam websites, timeshare and holiday club scams where people receive an unexpected phone call and told they have won a prize before then being pressured into signing an agreement which they struggle to cancel and scams concerning instances where people have booked flights, paying the full cost up front, but the tickets never arrive.

Hartlepool CAB has now produced a checklist to avoid being scammed this summer including:

l Be suspicious if tickets are being sold for events that have already sold out or haven’t officially gone on sale.

l Be very wary of letters, phone calls or emails from holiday companies or timeshare firms you don’t know offering you deals out of the blue.

l If you already belong to a holiday club, beware of companies who offer to buy your membership.

l If you already own a timeshare, beware of resale scams.

l Before booking a holiday, check that your tour operator or travel agent is signed up to a holiday protection scheme.

l Buy travel insurance as soon as you book any flights or a holiday, which will give you extra protection if your holiday doesn’t go as planned.

l If you are joining a dating website, make sure you know what you are signing up to.

l If you are buying online, check the site has a secure payment page.

l Use the internet to get feedback about the website or company and check contact details for the website.

For more information call into Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau, in Park Road, or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506 or Action Fraud on 0300 1232040.