Scammers beware Government crackdown begins

Scammers beware Government crackdown begins

Consumers who think they may be the victim of a rogue money-making scheme or Internet scam can now get all the advice they need online at the British Government’s new one-stop-shop for consumer advice.

Coinciding with the beginning of National Consumer Week, Consumer Direct is a telephone and online consumer advice service, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Created to provide clear, practical, impartial advice for anyone who has been the victim of a scam, from overcharging to faulty goods and dodgy workmanship to reporting dishonest traders.

It contains information about a range of issues including premium rate phone line cons and mobile and e-mail spam. The site will also keep tabs on new scams as they emerge to warn people to be on their guard.

Said Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe: "The best way of tackling scammers is to hit them where it hurts - their wallet. If we can help consumers become more knowledgeable about potential pitfalls and how to protect themselves, they are less likely to be duped into handing over their money."

“Consumer knowledge coupled with an effective enforcement regime is at the heart of the DTI’s key goal of empowering consumers.

“This is a very user-friendly website and consumers will be able to come back for regular updates. We’ll be keeping track of new scams as they emerge so consumers will have the latest information at their fingertips.”

The Trading Standards Institute is also using National Consumer Week to warn people about the perils lurking behind every dubious e-mail or missed mobile phone call.

For instance, today the TSI is alerting people to those text and e-mails we all receive which claim: "You are a winner! All we have to do is pick up the phone and call our prize line right now!"

The TSI reckons that over the past decade, consumers have been ripped off for millions of pounds, often without realising it, thanks to premium rate telephone number scams. Complaints have more than doubled over the last year alone.

Mr Sutcliffe said: “The key message remains the same: if something looks to good to be true, then it probably is. However, consumers now have an excellent new tool at their disposal that will enable them to spot the warning signs and make an informed choice before parting with their money.”

Sources: Consumer Direct, The Register

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