Suffolk Trading Standards are warning people not to let scammers destroy your New Year’s resolution.
The UK has the highest level of online fraud victims in the whole of Europe. Every year more than three million people in the UK fall victim to scams, losing over £3.5 billion.
Whether it’s losing weight, finding love or saving money, people are increasingly looking to the internet in a bid to fulfil their New Year resolutions.
Fraudsters are now using digital communication to scam unsuspecting people, especially post-Christmas when many are keen to use their new smartphones and tablets.
Trading Standards is warning residents to be on the lookout this month for dodgy deals that could ruin all their good intentions.
For every resolution made, it is important be aware of the following danger zones to avoid becoming a victim of the New Year, New Start, New Scam cycle:
Resolution: Earn more money
Scam: Chain emails – victims receive an email telling them of a miraculous way that they can earn vast sums of money.
Resolution: Find love
Scam: Romance scams - when you think you have met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are.
Once they have gained your trust, they may even ask for money.
Resolution: Book a summer holiday
Scam: Holiday fraud – when renewing passports and European Health Insurance Cards in a bid to beat the winter blues, some websites charge fees for services that official sites offer for free.
Resolution: Lose weight
Scam: Miracle health improvement - consumers are targeted by scams involving ‘free trials’ for products including weight loss supplements.
Resolution: Tackle your debts
Scam: Online loan scams – following the overspend at Christmas, the New Year brings a surge of offers for loans. Many of these offers are fake and/or fraudulent.
Resolution: Create your own luck
Scam: Lottery scams - emails about a lottery win can seem like a dream come true, but in reality, these messages of congratulations can often signal the start of a scam nightmare
Resolution: Embrace the digital age
Scam: When playing with your new smartphone or tablet, don’t get caught in the in-app purchasing trap and risk unwittingly draining your bank account
Resolution: Reduce your carbon footprint
Scam: Online shopping fraud - Every year consumers purchase counterfeit goods online thinking that they are getting a genuine bargain.
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for public protection said: “Scammers use a range of powerful tactics to prey on people’s hopes, dreams and plans at this time of year”.
“It is important to remain on your guard and ready to question deals that seem too good to be true - people are more at risk of being ripped off when signing up to services as part of their New Year’s resolutions so it is really important you thoroughly check the terms and conditions.
“It is vital that residents continue to report any suspicious deals and businesses – we all need to work together to bring an end to the work of these dangerous fraudsters.”
For more information on how to tackle these kind of scams, visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/protectyourselfonline
If anyone has any concerns about any New Year scams, advice is on hand from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.
Vital information can then be passed on to Trading Standards to help stop unscrupulous scammers from operating across the county.
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (January 16) Echo.