By Marcus Leach

Con merchants and rogue traders have never had it so good, according to a new report out from Citizens Advice, Desperate times, Desperate consumers.

The national charity says current economic conditions have paved the way for an unprecedented boom in scams that exploit people's need to save money on bills, increase their income and find work and affordable housing.

Speaking at the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) conference in Bournemouth, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy believes that advisers, enforcers, regulators and consumers need to join forces and work together more closely than ever before to beat rogue traders and fraudsters.

“Con merchants have never had it so good," she said. "The recession has provided an opening for money-making scams and sharp practices disguised as sources of help. Rogue traders are taking advantage of consumers desperate to find ways of saving money, earning more, getting a job or finding somewhere affordable to live.

“At Citizens Advice, we’re helping people tackle problems with con merchants across the country. Because consumer protection funding is being squeezed, it’s hard for regulators and enforcers to keep pace with new scams and take action in every case. So consumers need advice, enforcement, regulation and redress agencies to work even more closely to stamp out fraud and scams.”

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