CON tricks that people should watch out for are being highlighted to avoid becoming a scam victim.

Durham County Council wants to raise awareness of the issue during Scams Awareness Month throughout May.

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Scams often target the most vulnerable people and come in a variety of ways – including through the post, over the phone, on the doorstep and via the internet.

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“They are all aimed at persuading people to hand over money or their personal details, which can then be used to commit fraud.

“These scams can bring heartbreaking consequences, particularly for elderly and vulnerable victims, so we want to ensure people are aware of them and can spot the warning signs.”

Online rip-offs include check and send websites that look official but charge high fees for services that are often free, like European Health Insurance Cards.

Mailshot scams include fake prize draws, promises of home working and miracle products and investment offers.

Common telephone cons include a caller claiming to be from the Microsoft or Apple technical support team and asking for personal details which can lead to the recipient paying for bogus software, enable fraudsters to access computer data and leave a computer affected by harmful viruses or spyware.

Anyone who suspects they have been the targeted by a scam should report it to Action Fraud on 0300-1232040.

For more information or advice visit the websites actionfraud.police.uk or contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service online at adviceguide.org.uk or on 08454-040506.