Funded from money seized from criminals, this summer has seen the biggest recruitment campaign for the Suffolk Trading Standards Consumer Champion Network to date, with 270 volunteers now pledging to help fight rogues and scammers in their communities.
‘Join the Fight’ campaign posters in the guise of classified adverts, identifying what scammers are looking for in a victim, can be seen on 41 First Suffolk buses, in GP surgeries, libraries, children’s centres and hospitals across the County.
The Proceeds Of Crime Act is a piece of legislation which helps tackle criminals by hitting them where it hurts - by taking away their money and properties.
A proportion of the money seized from criminals’ financial assets can go to local authorities where it can be used to fund additional work in the battle against crime.
Some of this money has been used to fund the Join the Fight campaign.
Started in 2011, the Consumer Champion network, acts as a bridge between Trading Standards and the local community. Working hand in hand with Suffolk residents, the network aims to make it easier for people to access information about consumer rights, protecting themselves and their community in the process.
Anyone can Join the Fight and become a Consumer Champion. Call 01473 264859 or visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/jointhefight to complete an application form and return to the Community Engagement Officer via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection said: “Every year, more than three million people in the UK fall victim to scams, losing hundreds and even thousands of pounds.
“The network offers people a real opportunity to help stamp out rogue trading, expose scams and raise awareness of product recalls across Suffolk, which often affect the most vulnerable people in our society.
This August, Suffolk residents are being urged to Join the Fight, by being on the lookout for doorstep crimes. Over the past few years Trading Standards has seen a large spike in the number of doorstep crimes reported to the service in August. As part of the consumer champion network, you can “Join The Fight” against scammers by protecting yourselves against these rogues by knowing some of the tricks.
Last year, saw an increase of 43% in the number of doorstep related crimes reported to officers in August 2013, compared to in July 2013.
The Consumer Champion network will be sharing the following top tips for hiring a trader:
- Avoid any cold callers that may turn up or ring unexpectedly or unannounced offering to carry out repairs.
- When seeking a reliable trader, talk to family, friends and neighbours to get recommendations, or look for a Trader via Checkatrade.
- Report any unscrupulous traders either to police or Trading Standards on 03454 040506.
- Ask traders to provide you with written contact details, and consider getting written quotes, not estimates, from at least three traders.
- Ask about insurance backed guarantees.
- Consumer law allows you a 14 day ’cooling-off period’ so you can change your mind about any service offered by someone who comes, uninvited or by appointment, to your home and makes a contract with you.
- Keep back part of the cost until the repair job has been satisfactorily completed. This will provide an incentive for the trader to complete the job.