Scam victims face a postcode lottery when it comes to getting support from councils, new data has revealed.

Freedom of Information requests submitted to county councils across Britain have exposed vastly different levels of response in different parts of the country.

In Swansea, for example, every one of the 133 scam victims who made a report to trading standards in the past two years was visited while Buckinghamshire and Surrey councils visited just over one in 10.

All councils offered some sort of support in the form of call blockers or scam mail collection. Others refer victims to partner agencies such as those which combat loneliness and isolation.

The sort of scams which should be reported to trading standards include cold calling, scam mail and businesses selling substandard merchandise.

Work by National Trading Standards recently led to six people being charged with money laundering offences for operating a series of £10m ticket resale websites.

But Helen Morrissey, of insurance firm Royal London, which carried out the research, said trading standards remains under-resourced and if this warn departments would find themselves unable to cope with increasing demand.

Fraud and scams are a fast-growing problem, with recent figures from the banking trade body UK Finance showing more than £500m was stolen from consumers last year.

Craig McClue, head of policy at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said financial scams targeted at the vulnerable were a priority amid significant cuts in funding.

“”Each local authority makes its own decisions on resources and actions taken, and as such it’s expected that the experiences of victims may vary,” he added.

“What is a huge concern is that with an average 50pc frontline budget cut for trading standards services that there is decreasing capacity to protect communities in some areas, while also dealing with other issues such as product safety.”

Mrs Morrissey said: “Without adequate support victims may struggle to recover from their ordeal or find that they continue to be targeted by fraudsters.

“The fear is that if trading standards teams continue to be under resourced they will be unable to meet the increased demand for their services which is a win for the scammers who are already doing too much damage.”

Royal London’s research found that around 60pc of councils offered call blocking services to victims while others signposted them to services offered by charities like Age UK.

Simon Blackburn, of the Local Government Association, said: “Fraud, including scams, is now the most common type of crime in the country with more than two scams and attempted scams being reported to some councils every day.

“There is a huge challenge facing Trading Standards dealing with scams, with new and convincing scams emerging all the time. Internet fraud, such as fake or copycat websites, now having a significant role in trading standards work.”

He said local authorities worked with trading standards to secure prosecutions and has set up “no cold-calling zones” to deter rogue traders.

Citizens Advice said scam victims should report the incident to Trading Standards and Action Fraud, part of the police, while postal scams should also be reported to the Royal Mail. Anyone who has given away their bank details or has noticed potentially fraudulent transactions on their card should also contact their bank as soon as possible.


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