Travel agents are being urged to help the Office of Fair Trading fight scams during its nationwide ‘Scamnesty’ campaign this month.


The Government department, in partnership with over 50 local authority Trading Standards Services, is agents who has been targeted by any potential scam mailings to drop them into designated Scamnesty bins or boxes at local libraries and other public areas across the country. The designated bins are being promoted locally by Trading Standards Services with the theme ‘drop in and drop them in it’.


An estimated three million people fall victim to mass marketed scams such as bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes, fake psychics, get-rich-quick schemes and miracle health cures. Many of these scams are sent through the post and OFT research suggests that less than 5% of victims report the scam to the authorities.


Mike Haley, OFT director of consumer protection, said: “Any scam mailings that are dropped in the bins could be vital in gathering intelligence on the latest scams and in stopping the worst offenders from continuing to bring misery to thousands of vulnerable people each year.”


Ron Gainsford, trading standards institute chief executive, said: “Unfortunately often the first we hear of scam mailings is the horror stories of how people of all ages have received offers of money or prizes and sent off cheques. By asking people to recognise and drop in the scam mailings which they receive, we are helping to provide information about how these scams are evolving and expose scammers’ heartless techniques.”


A spokeswoman for ABTA said the association supports the initiative as travel agents are targeted by con artists.


She said: “It is devastating for an agent if they get caught out. It really is important that agents blow the whistle.”


If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct for clear, practical consumer advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit the Consumer Direct website.

Have you ever fallen for one of these scams? Email Travel Weekly and tell us your story.