People are being warned vulnerable residents in Lichfield and Burntwood may once again become targets of doorstep crime as more people continue to return to traditional working patterns.
It comes after a new Consumer Harm Report highlighted a national picture which saw criminals adapt new techniques during lockdown and periods of Government restrictions.
But with people now returning to work, Staffordshire County Council has warned that scammers may now be returning to “business as usual” with less people working from home able to keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours.
Trading Standards say a drop in doorstep crime during the pandemic was accompanied by a rise in so-called mass-market scams using Covid-19, HMRC and other organisations in a bid to con residents.
Cllr Victoria Wilson, cabinet member for communities at Staffordshire County Council, said it was important people were aware of the threats from people posing as others either online or on the doorstep.
“It’s been a particularly challenging 18 months for our Trading Standards service especially when we factor in the pandemic which gave criminals another vehicle to target us with a whole range of new scams.
“Both nationally and in Staffordshire we have seen a huge spike in the number of email, text, phone and mail scams and it’s very worrying to think that one in three people may have been affected by them.
“The reduction in doorstep crime was welcome but not really a surprise as many people were at home and unable to travel. But unfortunately criminals don’t sit around and are quick to adapt their tactics to online or text scams instead.
“I do appreciate that many scams can appear genuine but please read any communications carefully and don’t respond right away without thinking or speaking to someone.
“If you’re in any doubt at all, ignore the offer, delete the email or hang up the phone if it’s a telephone call. As always, people should be wary about any unsolicited approaches.”Cllr Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council
The county council said a number of current tactics were being employed by scammers, including:
- The use of telephone calls, emails, leaflets and websites to make initial contact with victims – deceptive marketing may make them appear local.
- Use of fake ‘approved trader’ websites, which list supposed official approved businesses when in fact the approval scheme is non-existent and most traders listed appear to be connected to known doorstep crime offenders.
- Repeat victimisation of the most vulnerable residents.
More details on how to spot the signs of bogus callers are available on the Staffordshire County Council website.