Today, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) published a report entitled Desperate Times, desperate consumers, which details the extent to which rogue traders and con artists are thriving in the current economic climate.
At a time when people are looking to cut their spending and boost their income, “money-making scams and sharp practices disguised as sources of help” are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Speaking at the Trading Standards Institute conference in Bournemouth today, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said “consumers need advice, enforcement, regulation and redress agencies to work even more closely to stamp out fraud and scams”.
Common scams include people advertising jobs that don’t exist, and charging upfront fees to those who express an interest in the position. One man from the West Midlands paid a £1,000 fee for a job as a film extra that was advertised on the Government’s Jobcentre Plus site.
The National Audit Office (NAO) last week published its own report, which said that funding cuts will leave trading standards departments underequipped to tackle these kinds of issues. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said that UK customers were wrong to think they were well-protected.
The Government now plans to scrap the Consumer Focus watchdog, transferring advocacy of energy consumers’ rights to the CAB. Citizens Advice is also due to take over the Consumer Direct helpline.