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Campaign to raise awareness of scams in Stevenage
Citizens Advice Stevenage is urging people in Stevenage to spread the word about scams and expose the tactics of fraudsters to protect others.
Scams Awareness Month is launching on 1st July to help stop people falling prey to scams by following a three-step rule - get advice, report it, and tell others about it.
It comes as national research by Citizens Advice finds scammers are using a variety of tactics to get people to part with their cash, with people losing an average of £2,500 across all types of scam.
Scam methods include vishing whereby scammers cold-call people in a bid to get their bank details, and offers of fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely.
Investment scams carried the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares losing of on average £20,000 each.
Citizens Advice is warning people to be on guard and watch out for the different methods used by fraudsters, from doorstep selling of counterfeit goods to demands for upfront payments for services that never materialise.
Daniel Marshall, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice in Stevenage said:
“Scams are not a minor blight, they heap misery on people and in some cases can lead to financial ruin.
“Fraudsters use sophisticated techniques to con people and because they vary their methods, it can be tricky to spot when something is a scam. If you come across something that seems suspicious, seek advice so you don’t put yourself at risk.
“It’s vital to report scams and spread the word so we can clampdown on con artists and stop others falling into the same traps.”
Eight common scams reported to Citizens Advice are:
1.Investment - victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back.
2.Fake services - people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
3.Vishing - con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details - for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills.
4.Doorstep selling - victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
5.Upfront payment or fee - fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
6.Premium rate texts - victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
7.Counterfeit goods - people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
8.Goods not received - people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.
Citizens Advice Stevenage is running events throughout the month to raise awareness for Scams. You can visit them in Stevenage Library on Friday 8th July between 10am and 12pm and Friday 22nd July from 2pm until 4pm. They will also be in the town centre on Wednesday 13th July with Trading Standards and other partner organisations to spread awareness of the danger of scams. 
We're recruiting! Could you be our new Specialist Debt Caseworker?
We have an exciting opportunity for a debt specialist caseworker for a three year Comic Relief funded project, entitled “Get out of debt, stay out of debt”. This project aims to deliver specialist debt advice in a way which will get people out of debt, and keep them out of debt in the long-term, by providing them with the necessary skills to do so. 

For further information, you can view the Job Advert here: http://jobs.thirdsector.co.uk/previewjob/387395/specialist-debt-caseworker/
Surge in domestic abuse reports in Stevenage
The number of people coming forward about domestic abuse has rocketed.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Stevenage has reported a projected 400 per cent increase in domestic abuse victims coming forward.

It follows the launch of a new project, Talk About Abuse, which aims to get people talking about it and to look for signs.

Stevenage CAB staff and volunteers have undertaken training to identify instances of domestic abuse so they can provide support and advice to sufferers.

Daniel Marshall, CEO at the branch, said: "What we have been doing is an 18-month training programme for our staff.

"Clients will come in for advice, sometimes they will be debt related or to do with relationship breakdowns.

"The staff will now sensitively ask the victim if they are suffering domestic abuse.

"It is about proactively asking, not just waiting for someone to declare it."

So far, the project – which only started one month ago – has been successful, with a rise in the number of people coming forward.

It comes as Stevenage CAB claims as many as one in three people in the town may know someone who is suffering.

Last year, 39 reports were received by the charity of domestic abuse.

But 13 were received in the first month of the project alone, which would equate to 156 a year.

And the CAB believes this will rises as awareness increases.

It says that friends and family can play a key role in encouraging victims to seek specialist help.

Mr Marshall said: "Family and friends can be a lifeline of support for victims of domestic abuse.

"Those suffering from domestic abuse may feel unable to reach out for help themselves, so people who want to support them need to know the steps they can take and where they can get specialist help."

Hertfordshire Constabulary urged victims – and family and friends – to come forward.

A spokesman said: "Every day across Hertfordshire, officers attend up to 50 incidents of domestic abuse and nearly a quarter of arrests made relate to domestic abuse.

"Sadly, we do know there are people affected by these crimes, who may not have yet asked for help, and I would encourage those people to make contact."

Mr Marshall added: "What we say to people is to get in touch with us, tell friends or family, or there are a number of helplines to call.

"You can get help and support from Stevenage CAB."