Funding for two Trading Standards officers to give dedicated support to Nottinghamshire victims of mass marketing scams for a further six months has been approved by the County Council.
The two officers started in October 2016 and have worked with victims who have an estimated total loss of almost £800,000, including three victims who lost over £150,000 each and one who lost her £260,000 house to a telephone scam.
The additional £49,000 funding has been approved by the Council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee and comes from the Government’s Better Care funding pot.
Nationally, mass marketing scams cause between £5 to £10 billion per year financial loss to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, with the average victim being 75 years old with a £2,800 loss.
The Council predicts it will receive a further list of about 800 victims from the National Scam Team after October and the dedicated officers will aim to visit and give advice to these victims to help them avoid future scams.
Mass marketing fraudsters try to lure victims with false promises of large cash prizes, goods or services in exchange for upfront fees via personal contact, the post, telephone or the internet.
Scams can cause significant harm to victims’ health, wellbeing and independence, which often means more support from social services and health professionals.
The Council is also encouraging residents to become a ‘Nominated Neighbour’ for vulnerable people in their local area to help tackle scammers and rogue traders.
The vulnerable person is given a card to hold up to their window or door which directs unannounced callers to their ‘Nominated Neighbour’ who will find out the purpose of their visit and check identification before they are allowed inside the person’s home.
The ‘Nominated Neighbour’ will receive clear and simple advice from the Council on action they should take with different kinds of callers and who they contact to report any incidents.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, Vice- Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee, said: “Heartless mass marketing scammers target the vulnerable and unfortunately once a person falls for one scam they are then bombarded with mail, calls and emails enticing them into another scam.
“It can become a viscous circle and our Trading Standards officers spend time with victims who have lost significant sums to make them aware of the signs of a scam and encourage them to ignore bogus prize draws, lotteries or special offers.
“Local people can also do their bit by becoming a ‘Nominated Neighbour’ for vulnerable people in their community to help them to vet doorstep callers.”
For more information about the ‘Nominated Neighbour’ scheme or to report a scam contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 05 06.