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Fife Council Trading Standards Team is preparing to play its part in a nationwide push to warn the public about the recent rise in levels of doorstep crime in Scotland.
As more Scottish consumers struggle with price increases and rising energy bills, Trading Standards Scotland and Police Scotland have launched a “Shut out Scammers” campaign which will run from 25 April- 22 May. The awareness drive will highlight various forms of financial harm to which consumers are susceptible. The campaign aims to empower consumers rather than make them fearful, and to encourage the reporting of doorstep crime.
In addition to the more traditional doorstep scams reported during the summer months, such as rogue traders offering to carry out home maintenance, gardening work or services such as gutter cleaning or pressure washing, fraudsters have been adapting their methods to take advantage of consumers’ anxieties and uncertainties around the cost of living crisis.
In recent months, there has been an increase in reports from Scottish consumers about cold calls and scams relating to energy efficiency products such as boilers or roof insulation. Dishonest companies target those who want to make their homes more energy efficient, saying that funding or grants are available for their products, yet asking consumers to pay for the products up front or take out a loan. Consumers are told that they will receive their money back over time but rarely do. They often overinflate their prices and then apply ‘discounts’ which are supposedly equivalent to government grants.
Detective Superintendent Dave Ferry, Depute Chair of Police Scotland Acquisitive Crime Tactical Board, said: “Typically, door-step criminals look to fraudulently represent tradespeople so that they can gain access to your home where they look to steal items of value which can include your personal information that they can then use for financial gain.
The Shut out Scammers campaign aims to bring these scams to the public attention so that communities are informed and feel empowered to question cold-callers and turn away anyone whose identity they do not feel is genuine.
We have a range of useful advice on our website aimed at protecting the public from doorstep criminals and rogue traders and this can be viewed by visiting www.scotland.police.uk”
Dawn Adamson, Fife Council Trading Standards’ Manager, added: “Raising public awareness with regards to rogue traders and scams is becoming an even bigger priority to us because of the current financial climate and fraudsters looking to exploit the situation.
The Shut Out Scammers campaign is a great platform to do that and I would urge people to follow us on our social media platforms at facebook.com/fifets and twitter.com/@FifeTS for advice and information in the coming weeks on how to avoid falling victim to scammers.
Anyone that believes they may have been targeted by an illicit trader should contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or www.consumeradvice.scot to report it and receive consumer advice if required. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud you should of course call Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency.”