Despite having a small team of just four full-time staff, Orkney Islands Council Trading Standards is demonstrating its value by preventing thousands of pounds of local residents’ money from being lost to scammers.
Recently the team was able to recover £110,000 for one victim who had been duped out of their life savings in an online stocks and shares fraud.
The team also recently prevented another local resident from losing £7,500 to an advertising scam and resolved a number of issues with energy suppliers by helping customers gain refunds.
Further activities over the past few months have included more scam advice and prevention, help with debts being written off, and even the happy conclusion of the case of a missing dog.
The service has an annual operating budget of just £250,000, with responsibilities for supporting Orkney’s local businesses and 24,000 residents; the islands’ weather conditions and terrain can create their own set of challenges, including supply issues and occasional shortages of consumer goods.
The team’s hard work has not gone unnoticed by local residents; between July and September last year, Orkney Trading Standards received 23 messages of thanks through the Council’s Customer Services platform from grateful members of the public who had been helped by the service. Members of the Trading Standards team are well known in the local community, and residents and businesses often approach them directly for advice and support.
Gary Foubister, service manager at Orkney Trading Standards, said: “We are a very small team within the Council, which makes it all the more pleasing to have received such fantastic feedback. We all work hard to try and protect consumers from illegal trading practices while also supporting legitimate businesses.
“The nature of our work means we are often assisting people through what can be very distressing periods in their lives so for them to take the time to share messages of thanks is very gratifying.”
Orkney Islands Council Corporate Director of Neighbourhood Services and Infrastructure, Hayley Green, said: “Thanks to our very small team of dedicated staff within Trading Standards, folk have been assisted during what can be an incredibly stressful time for those who have been scammed or are facing what appear to be insurmountable hurdles in getting refunds or compensation.
“Well done Team Trading Standards!”