TIM DREW: People urged to fight back against the scammers

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RESIDENTS across West Sussex have been urged to fight back against fraudsters, with Scams Awareness Month officially launched last week – with a focus on online swindles.

West Sussex County Council’s trading standards service is supporting the national, month-long initiative and is warning people to be on their guard and to look out for others who might prove vulnerable to scammers, who are invariably well-versed in the arts of persuasion and manipulation. New research from the Citizens Advice Bureau has concluded that fraudsters are swindling up to four-million people each year. More than 207,250 cases in England and Wales were reported to Action Fraud in 2013 – 25 per cent more than in 2012 – but many more go unreported, often out of embarrassment. West Sussex Trading Standards will focus on phone scams, mail hoaxes and doorstep fraud during this month. Over a third of scams (34 per cent) were over the phone, almost a quarter (24 per cent) were through visits to a web site, 16 per cent were letter or fax scams, and 10 per cent were through emails.

Online shopping and auction scams was the biggest single fraud type, with almost 40,000 recorded cases nationally. Trading standards officers have advised that non-secure websites asking for financial details should be treated with the utmost caution, and that the presence of the padlock or ‘https’ next to the web address be ascertained.

• Two surgeries will be held on Thursday, May 29, the first being hosted by PCSO Ben Cruise between 11am and mid-day at the West Worthing Baptist Church, in South Street,Tarring, followed by PCSO Carol Fulcher’s, between 4pm and 4.45pm, at Goring Library, in Mulberry Lane, Goring.

Finally, the open meeting of the Worthing Neighbourhood Watch Association will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, June 24, at the Heene Community Centre, in Heene Road, Worthing. The evening’s presentation will feature the project recently undertaken by Northbrook College media studies students and the police, which was aimed at reducing vehicle crime.