Whether you’re an individual consumer looking to protect yourself and your family from scams, or an organisation or group representing consumers, your efforts during Scams Awareness Month 2018 are important.
Last year, Citizens Advice found that almost three quarters of people surveyed had been targeted by a scam in the previous two years (2015-17)
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has teamed up with Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) to ensure Trading Standards services can raise awareness of scams across the country.
This year’s campaign, ‘Don’t miss a trick, be scam aware’, will continue to focus on those frequently targeted for scams. Working with trading standards, Citizens Advice have identified four groups most likely to be targeted by scams: young people (18-24), life established (40s-60s), over 70s and the socially isolated.
What types of scams are out there?
There are many types of scams being operated by criminals, across the globe. However, some are more prevalent in the UK than others.
In the 2017-2018 financial year, the National Trading Standards Scams team reported that they helped prevent over 5 million pieces of fraudulent or scam post being delivered to UK residents. It’s thought this could have stopped just over £22million being sent to criminals.
Many postal scams take the form of fake lotteries, bogus health cures or pyramid schemes. You can find out more about how to spot postal scams and how to report it, on the Which? Consumer Rights website.
Online Dating Scams
The majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people looking for romance, but fraudsters may try to contact you by making fake profiles, getting in touch and building what feels like a loving relationship.
Once a fraudster using a fake dating profile is confident that they’ve won your trust, they will tell you about a problem they’re experiencing and ask you to help out by sending money. They may also gather personal details about you and use them to commit identity fraud.
Find out how to spot the signs and report an Online Dating Scam, on the Action Fraud website.
Tax Refund Scams
Every year, fraudsters use the end of the tax year as a way to trick people into handing out personal details such as bank account number with the promise of a rebate on their tax. Many of these scams operate using phishing emails and even text messages.
Remember, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will never use texts or emails to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ask for personal or payment information.
More information and advice about reporting a tax rebate scam is available on the HMRC website.
Scams can leave lasting financial and psychological distress on the victims, and often come with a stigma which leaves victims embarrassed and unwilling to report the crime. It’s estimated only 5-15% of scams are reported.
Councillor Matthew Holmes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Public Protection commented:
“It’s a really worrying fact that victims of scams can feel reluctant to come forward.
Nobody should suffer in silence or feel embarrassed in anyway about what has happened to them. By not seeking advice or reporting a scam we risk allowing those carrying them out to target others.
It’s reassuring and heartening to know that devoted trading standards and consumer protection champions around Derby are tirelessly working to help raise awareness and drive down criminal behaviour. Their work goes on behind the scenes around the clock and raising awareness of the work they do is vital.”
If you know of a scam, or have been scammed, don’t miss a trick. Call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.