As MP for Bury St Edmunds I receive hundreds of emails relating to casework from my constituents. I have been saddened by the number of fraud cases in my inbox of late.
Between October 2017 and March 2018 there were 2,433 crimes reported to Action Fraud from Suffolk alone, totalling £5.9million in lost funds.
Often the scams are sophisticated and convincing. They vary from case to case. From cowboy builders to fake bank account scams. Fraudsters will often target elderly and vulnerable members of our community, believing them to be easy targets.
I recently became aware of one such case at the Older Persons fair I hosted in Needham Market. In this case we were able to introduce an elderly resident to trading standards after she became concerned that she might be a victim of a solar panel scam. Officers were able to give her some advice and reassurance, and prevented her from handing over any money.
There are a number of free to use services available to those who believe they may be a target of a scam. Suffolk Trading Standards offer a reporting service for suspected scams. Advice and support is available for anyone that has been a victim of a scam.
Banks are also working to raise awareness of fraud cases. TSB in Stowmarket are hosting a series of workshops designed to help people understand how to spot and stop fraud. The workshops are for everyone, not just TSB customers. Times and dates are available in the branch and on the TSB website.
The advice given by both banks and Suffolk Trading Standards is to speak with someone if you believe you are a target of a scam. Whether a friend or family member or a service provider, telling someone else about any proposals will help you think things through. It is important to remember that if a proposal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
More advice on what to do if you feel you are a target of a scam is available on the Suffolk Trading Standards website: https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/community-and-safety/trading-standards-for-consumers/