Fraud victims in Hartlepool have been urged not to suffer in silence after it was revealed just over one complaint a week was being made about scams in the town.
There is a warning that the figure is just the tip of the iceberg, with the Local Government Association (LGA) saying just 5% of scams are reported.
We understand that falling victim to a scam can be a devastating experience, both financially and emotionallyHartlepool Borough Council spokesman
Hartlepool Borough Council received 64 complaints relating to scams in 2016/17, with a further five reported since April.
Councils across the country are cracking down on criminals running shams ranging from fake online dating and disability parking badge sites, to bogus diamond investment schemes and weight-loss devices.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We understand that falling victim to a scam can be a devastating experience, both financially and emotionally.
“We try to protect residents of the town by taking a particularly proactive approach to this problem and this is highlighted by the fact that our Trading Standards Team is one of only a few local authority trading standards departments that still publicise their telephone numbers.
“This makes it easier for people to report incidents and to quickly get the help they so often urgently need.
“Scammers don’t discriminate who they target but unfortunately it is often the elderly, vulnerable or socially isolated who fall victim to the fraud.
“Fraudsters are always creating new and innovative methods of getting their hands on other people’s money.
“Our advice would be to always hang up on cold callers and don’t be pressured into providing your financial or personal details.
“If in doubt always think twice and seek a second opinion. Often, if an offer seems too good to be true then it usually is.”
Victims of scams who need help, or anyone who wants information on how to protect themselves or a loved one who they suspect may be a victim of a scam, should contact Hartlepool Council’s Trading Standards Team on 01429 523362, or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.