Bring Out Yer Scams, Urges Council
Edinburgh City Council is encouraging residents to participate in the annual 'Scamnesty' month by bringing scam letters and emails to its Scam Mail Collection Bins in city libraries. The council is one of many local authorities participating in the national campaign, which is being run by the Office of Fair Trading and Age UK.
Edinburgh residents can drop off scam letters or emails at Currie Library, Kirkliston Library, Leith Library, Newington Library, Oxgangs Library, and Portobello Library.
Trading Standards Officers will then collate all the mail deposited in the bins and compile a report for the Office of Fair Trading. All mail handed in will then be recycled.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader, said the Scamnesty campaign helps Trading Standards officers gauge the level and nature of mail scams being perpetrated in Edinburgh.
"The people who are behind these scams are often linked to organised crime and have no regard for the distress they may cause, particularly to older and more vulnerable members of the community so any steps that can be taken to root out such scams are really worthwhile," he said.
Working with other agencies, the aim is to highlight the most prolific scams, and those specifically targeting the elderly and young people.
Examples which have prompted complaints to the Council's Trading Standards team are slimming products on 14 day trials, consumers who have ‘definitely won’ thousands of pounds in prize draws or free holidays, and scams which persuade people to hand over up front fees on the promise of employment.
Esther Rantzen, who herself has spent over 40 years exposing scammers and con-men, said:
'Scams can have a devastating impact on people's lives. The conmen often deliberately target older people or people who are especially vulnerable. Stigma or embarrassment can wrongly make victims think they are to blame, and discourage them from reporting these crimes or seeking help. No-one should feel like this. I want people to feel able to speak to their friends, family and neighbours so that we can put these con-artists out of business.
'I also want to help raise awareness through this OFT campaign of the tricks and methods that scammers use on unsuspecting and often vulnerable people. I urge people to outwit the scammers and simply bin any scams they receive.'
Top 5 scams
Every year, 3.2 million adults – one in 15 people – across the UK fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings. The top five complaints to Consumer Direct, the OFT-managed consumer advice service were:
- Advance fee and money transfer
- Prize draws and sweepstakes
- Foreign lotteries
- Career opportunities