Consumer fraud is on the rise as a number of new scams are being reported to the Derbyshire County Council. The council’s own trading standards unit received notifications from members of the public of nearly 700 attempts of cons during the period April 2011 through to March 2012; an increase of nearly 25% over the previous period.
Council staff says that two particular scams are on the rise: cashable vouchers targeting householders and another aimed at computer owners at home. Although other fraud has been detected, variations of these two types of fraud dominate reports.
Typically, the home computer fraud will start with a phone call with claims the owner’s PC may have been infected with a virus or have some other security issue. The caller then tries to extract log in details from the owner which gives the scammer access to the home computer owner’s personal details such as banking passwords.
A variation of the scam is that after a non-existent remote repair of the computer, payment is requested by credit card. Once these details are divulged they can be used by the scammer or on-sold to other criminals for additional purchases.
Other scams involve the sale of non-existent vouchers which can be redeemed in many retail outlets. The use of a credit card for payment not only gives the scammer money but enables them to have legitimate card details for their own use later.
Kevin Parkinson, a council cabinet member says that his staff tries to make public any scams as they come to light and appreciate the information passed onto them by members of the public. The council maintains a trusted trader register and urges people to use only reputable companies; if necessary, simply hang up the phone.