Exeter residents losing most through scams

Media release
Thursday 28 July 2016

Leading local advice charity, Citizens Advice Exeter, is calling for people to be on their guard against scams after the City was revealed as one of the top scam hotspots in England and Wales.

Analysis of 5,000 scams reported to the national Citizens Advice consumer service between January and March 2016 show the areas where people are most likely to report scams, and the different methods scammers use to con people out of their cash.

The average loss for victims in Exeter was £5,736 per victim, more than double the average when compared to a national average loss of £2,500, and the highest level of loss in any area.  Exeter came in eighth place out of 102 areas for scam hotspots after residents reported 61 cases to the Citizens Advice consumer service in the first three months of this year.

Scam methods identified by Citizens Advice included up-front payments, where people were asked to pay for a service which never materialises, and fake services, such as telling people their computer had a virus which can be fixed remotely.  There were 17 counts of this latter scam reported in Exeter, alongside cold calls about bogus phone blocking services, making them the two most common scams.

The top three scam types running in Exeter were:

  • 22 cases of fake services – fraudsters charging people for a service that isn’t real or doesn’t exist.
  • 16 cases of upfront payment fees – victims paying for a product or service which they never received.
  • 5 cases of subscription traps – people signing up for a subscription that’s hard to cancel after they’re offered a discounted trial.

During Scams Awareness Month, Citizens Advice Exeter is urging people to follow a three-step rule:

  1. Get advice,
  2. Report it, and
  3. Tell others about it.

Steve Barriball, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Exeter, said:

“Getting scammed can cost you dearly.

“Fraudsters have plenty of tricks up their sleeves so Exeter residents can’t be too vigilant. Scams Awareness Month aims to give people the confidence to spot scams more easily and speak up to stop others being caught out.

“Any residents who would like a second opinion about an offer they’ve received should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. If anyone suspects they’ve been a victim of a scam, they should go straight to Action Fraud.”

Citizens Advice Exeter’s top five tips for spotting scams include:

  1. Don’t be rushed into making an immediate decision.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  3. Contacted out of the blue – be suspicious.
  4. Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
  5. Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

Anyone worried about a scam can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or visit citizensadvice.org.uk.

Victims of scams can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.


Notes to editors:

Citizens Advice divided scams reported to the consumer helpline into 102 main postal areas in England and Wales. The reported scams were compared to the population in the same areas as per the ONS 2011 Census.

Scams Awareness Month is run by the Consumer Empowerment Partnership. Formed in April 2012, the CEP brings together key partners within the consumer landscape to better identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle detriment more effectively than they could through working in isolation.