Telephone scam warning after complaints double

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Consumers and businesses have been warned to be on their guard following a rise in complaints about two types of telephone scams.

In the first half of 2011 Derbyshire County Council received 46 complaints about a computer scam – more than the 44 it received about the same type of scam during the whole of 2010.

Scammers telephone householders claiming they have a virus or security problem on their home computer.

They attempt to persuade householders to log on and allow them remote access, enabling them to gain personal information and bank details.

And they often ask for payment by debit or credit card. These details may then be shared with criminals and the security of the victim’s computer compromised.

Derbyshire businesses have also been targeted. In one advertising agency scam the number of complaints in the first half of 2011 was 31 – compared with 28 in the whole of last year.

A call is made to a business seeking payment for adverts in publications such as community magazines. The adverts are often never placed and sometimes the publications don’t exist.

Traders have also received calls and letters from scam businesses and their debt collectors claiming they owe money for advertising placed several months earlier.

If businesses have not placed such an advert they should not pay or reply.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Since the start of the year our trading standards officers have received over 300 complaints from members of the public about scam calls and letters.

“These fraudsters have only one thing in mind – to con people out of money. I would urge anyone who receives such a call to hang up immediately and never give personal or bank details over the telephone.”

Anyone who thinks they have been the target of a scam should call Consumer Direct on 08456 04 05 06.