West Dunbartonshire residents are among those to have lost nearly £45,000 in just six months, it has been revealed.

Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) is launching a new campaign with Police Scotland called ‘Shut out Scammers’ to raise awareness about the risks of accepting work offered by cold callers.

Figures from TSS show that between November last year and April this year, a total of £44,719 was lost by 13 households across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute.

The average amount lost was £3,440.

The true scale of the problem is feared to be worse than indicated as the figures revealed do not account for unreported cases.

The campaign comes with a warning that fraudsters are adapting their tactics to exploit the cost-of-living crisis, including making claims to be working on behalf of the government with fake subsidy offers.

Criminals often employ online and social media ads featuring misleading information and reviews.

Householders should check at least three different review sites and obtain more than one quote for a piece of work.

TSS is also urging people to check in with their older relatives to ensure that they are aware of these scams.

As part of the campaign, a scam awareness van has been visiting different parts of West Dunbartonshire.

Reported cases in the area include a recently widowed woman who was approached on her doorstep and told that her roof needed repairs.

She mentioned her late husband usually dealt with home improvements. The trader initially quoted her £170, but then ramped up the price to £220 to cover the paint.

After she transferred the money, the trader completed just a third of the work and then disappeared, taking her ladders with him.

In another incident, a woman was charged £500 upfront for paving and tree trimming work.

The trader claimed he needed the cash for materials and was going to the builders' merchants before starting work but failed to return.

Anyone caught out by a scam or suspicious activity should report it using the national advice service Advice Direct Scotland’s tool at consumeradvice.scot or contact 0808 164 6000 for support.

Victims of fraud should report it to Police Scotland on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Councillor Maureen Chalmers, chair of Trading Standards Scotland’s governance board, said: “Scammers are constantly adapting their tactics to take advantage of people, especially when many households in Renfrewshire are struggling to make ends meet with the cost-of-living crisis.Clydebank Post:

“So, it is more important than ever to remain vigilant and be on your guard. With our campaign and van, we aim to equip people with the tools and confidence to spot scams effectively.

“We urge consumers not to deal with cold callers and to seek local traders who have been vetted by Trading Standards and who have made a commitment to treat customers fairly via approved trader schemes.

“We are also asking people to look out for family members, friends, and neighbours and to report any suspicious behaviour to stop the scammers in their tracks.”