National Trading Standards is warning of a sharp increase in rogue firms making cold calls claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and attempting to get money for registration or for bogus call blocking devices.
The organisation, set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards, warns of the threat in its first Consumer Harm Report which makes grim reading for both consumers and businesses.
Despite making a big play of the fact that a total of £385,000 was returned to scam victims, the scale of the problem is exposed by the fact that identified victims of direct mail scams alone lost over £13m over the same period and 200,000 people now appear on so-called suckers lists.
However, cases it handled led to the conviction of over 100 criminals who are now serving a total of 118 years in prison.
Louise Baxter, from the NTS scams team, said of the TPS fraud: “This is a sad and cynical scam that targets people who are actively trying to protect themselves or vulnerable relatives.”
The report also highlights a seemingly endless list of other threats, including loan sharks, subscriptions traps, solar panel marketing, pension investment fraud, secondary ticket sales, and social media scams.
NST chair Lord Toby Harris said: “We face a growing threat from criminals that set out to target consumers – including some of the most vulnerable people in society – and honest businesses.
And it’s not just money they take from innocent people. Many victims feel they have lost their dignity, their self-confidence, their sense of security. For small businesses, entire livelihoods may be lost and this, in turn, damages the economy.”
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