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Sound too good to be true? It probably is!

5 July 2016

This July, Citizens Advice and Trading Standards have joined forces to launch the national Scams Awareness Month (SAM16) to help stop people falling prey to scams. Essex residents are being encouraged to follow the three-step rule and (i) get advice, (ii) report it and (iii) tell others about it.

Each week during Scams Awareness Month, Essex Trading Standards will be drawing your attention to a different technique used by scammers. This week the focus is on telephone scams.

Telephone calls make up 33% of contact by con artists and they often target older or vulnerable members of society. Scammers often pretend to be banks or government agencies to get you to reveal personal information, or inform you of pretend compensation, initiatives or prizes you have won.

£5 billion each year is conned out of people by telephone and postage scams; offering pretend prizes, opportunities, goods, schemes and services.  Very often the victims don’t even know they’ve been tricked. Or worse: they’re too ashamed to admit it.

Essex Trading Standards has produced an animation highlighting what to look out for when dealing with scammers, which is available on the Essex County Council YouTube channel at

Cllr Anne Brown, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Corporate, Communities and Customers, said: “Scammers cost us billions of pounds a year, and often the victims don’t even realise they’re being conned. It’s great that Citizens Advice and Trading Standards are dedicating July to helping to protect Essex residents, by helping people to understand when they’re being scammed.

“Equally, the techniques some con artists use are incredibly elaborate – one in ten of us fall for them – so it’s important to let people know that there’s no shame in being victimised by sneaky and pushy operators. If you have been scammed, then Citizens Advice will lend a sympathetic ear and you can help to make sure that scammers can’t dupe anyone else.”

If you are concerned that a member of your family, friend or neighbour has been the victim of a scam, you can report the incident to the Trading Standards national helpline, run by Citizens Advice, on 03454 040506.