Watch out, there's a scammer about

Govt launches consumer help site

The British government has unveiled a new website to help punters "wise up to scams". Coinciding with the beginning of National Consumer Week, the consumer direct site has been created to provide help and advice for anyone who has been the victim of a scam.

The site contains info about a range of stuff including premium rate phone line cons and dodgy mobile and email 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."

The Trading Standards Institute is also using National Consumer Week to warn people about the perils lurking behind every dubious email or missed mobile phone call. For instance, today the TSI is alerting people to those text and emails we all receive which claim: "You are a WINNER! All we have to do is pick up the phone and call our (sssshhhhh don't tell anyone but it's a premium rate) 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. With complaints more than doubling over the last year alone, the advice from the experts is simple - if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. ®

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