ROGUE traders who try to scam victims with leaflet drops are the target of a new crackdown.
Anyone who gets a suspicious advert through their door is encouraged to drop it off at in one of 85 “scamnesty” boxes being placed around the county, as part of National Scams Awareness Month.
The illicit post will then be used by Oxfordshire Council Council's trading standards department to better understand how the criminals operate.
The head of the trading standards service, Richard Webb, said: “We want to highlight tactics used by unscrupulous rogue traders. One of the ways to crackdown on scammers attempting to fleece money out of people through the post is to give residents a place where they can dump these unwanted letters.
“I hope that householders will take advantage of the scam mail boxes that will be placed in libraries, citizens advice bureaus, health and wellbeing centres and other buildings during May, and dump the letters which are purely designed to con people out of their money.
“We will collect all the letters posted in the ‘scamnesty’ boxes and, by sharing our results with those from other parts of the country, we will get a much clearer picture of the scale of the problem and how to tackle it.”
The move comes after the Oxford Mail last month revealed doorstep criminals scamming Oxfordshire residents had hit a seven-year high.
Fraudsters ripped off people of at least £864,000 in 627 incidents between April last year and March this year.
Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards and county Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CABs) are working together over this month in a bid to raise awarenesss of the problem.
The month will also see information stalls set up across the county to spread word of the threat.
David Soward, a coordinator from Oxfordshire’s Consumer Empowerment Partnership, based at Oxford CAB, said: “Scammers try and target potential victims in a variety of ways, whether that be via post, over the phone, on the doorstep or online.
“Often they focus on the elderly with sophisticated cons such as posing as a bank or a phone company.”
He added: “People regularly come to us with heart-breaking stories about con artists taking their money, and it’s important that people know what to look out for and what they can do.
“Anyone who is unsure about someone asking for their financial details should check with someone they trust and report anything that sounds dodgy to their local Citizens’ Advice Bureau."
Pensioner George Strange, who was conned out of £300 two years ago, welcomed the scheme as a good way to raise awareness about scams.
The 70-year-old, who lives near Milton, lost the money to a firm that said it needed it to claw back mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance.
The former chairman of Milton Parish Council said: “We got scammed and I have never forgotten it. It something you do not forget.
“The more awareness that people can get, the better it will be.”
He said any ‘dodgy’ leaflets that came through his letterbox went straight in the bin.
Libraries: Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Blackbird Leys, Carterton, Oxford Central Library, Cowley, Didcot, Headington, Henley, Kidlington, Summertown, Thame, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney.
Health and wellbeing centres: Horspath Driftway in Oxford, Britwell Road in Didcot, Launton Road in Bicester, Garston Road in Wantage, Millington Road in Wallingford and Ruskin Road in Banbury.
Citizens Advice Bureaux: Oxford, Abingdon, Didcot, Banbury, Thame, Wallingford, Witney and Henley