Scams Awareness Month – July 2017
In July, we take part in a campaign about reducing the risk and impact of scams by raising awareness and encouraging people to take action by recognizing, reporting and talking about scams.
Scams are not just a minor inconvenience to people. Apart from financial loss, they can cause distress and misery . They can also happen to anyone at anytime.
Only 5-15% of all scams are reported, leaving a large number of scams going unreported. Reporting them not only helps to inform agencies, it also helps to prevent future scams.
While young people do not represent the largest group of people falling victim to scams, evidence shows a sharp rise in the number of under 25’s are being hit by scams. Young people are found to be a growing proportion of victims of online and identity fraud.
Those in the age range of 40-60 are the most affected by scams and the most likely to report them. Some people in this group are targeted due to their circumstances as they tend to be more settled and have financial assets and are affected by pension scams, dating scams and property scams.
Many people over the age of 70 and especially those who are socially isolated are falling victim to scammers mostly with phone or mail scams and figures from the National Trading Standards show more older and isolated people are deliberately targeted more. This group also sees the largest proportion of people who are re-occuring victims of scams.
Scams to watch out for;
- Government official service scams – callers claim to be official Govt departments and sell services for a “fee”
- Pension Scams – Pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 give consumers added flexibility but it is essential they make informed decisions using trusted sources.
- Investment Scams –often initiated with an unsolicited phone call, frequent scam investments include wine, shares, rare earth minerals and land investments overseas. Average losses are very high
- Subscription traps or free trial scams – Unscrupulous companies use subscription traps and in particular Continuous Payment Authority (CPA) to help themselves to consumer accounts. These consist of traps offering health and beauty related products such as slimming pills or face/skin creams. In March 2017, the Govt announced a crackdown on subscription traps but consumers still need to take care.
- Job Scams– Scams include taking money to write CV’s or carrying out security and police checks. Some offer expensive training or jobs that do not exist.
- Computer Scams – People are being called and told that they have a problem with their computer, which for a fee, can be fixed. PC virus scams remain prevalent in the calls reported to Citizens Advice Consumer Service. Other computer scam methods involve offering bogus virus protection or warranties.
- Ticket Scams– tickets bought from a website but the event is sold out or tickets not yet on sale. Sometimes they are never delivered. Consumers need to research companies to ensure they are genuine
- Lottery/prize draw scams – mainly postal
- Council Tax re banding scams– A cold call naming your local council and offering a rebate for council tax for a fee
- Telephone Preference Service (TPS)- Scammers demand payment for the free TPS or sell call blockers which either do not work properly or are part of an expensive subscription service.
- Advertising Scams – Targeting self employed people and small businesses. This involves a cold call asking for payment for services or offering opportunities to advertise. Victims are often told that they had verbally consented.
- Vishing –phone scams where someone impersonates someone from the bank, the police or telephone/internet provider.
- Smishing – text messages used to lure people into scam websites or to call premium rate numbers
- Phishing– emails and harmful links designed to deceive people into revealing personal/financial details
- Pyramid selling – told they can earn money by recruiting new members to a money making venture. Only a tiny minority make money, everyone else loses.
What to do to tackle scams
Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service 03454 04 05 06
Go online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk for advice and information
To report a problem to Trading Standards, contact the Consumer Helpline 03454 04 05 06
Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 www.actionfraud.police.uk Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime (If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved, the consumer’s first step should be to contact their bank or credit card company).
Tell family, friends & neighbours so that they can avoid scams.Consumers can also do the following to cut down on unwanted contacts.
Register their number with Telephone Preference Service at www.tpsonline.org.uk or 0345 070 0707 Mobiles can also be registered by texting “TPS” and email address to 85095
Unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner’s Office – https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing or 0303 123 1113
People who want to report potential scam mail can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail Phone 03456 113 413 or email email@example.com. It can also be reported to Citizens Advice consumer service
The Mailing Preference (MPS) is free and may help reduce unsolicited mail www.mpsonline.org.uk or 0207 291 3310
To opt out from receiving “Door to Door unaddressed mail delivered by Royal Mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 0345 266 0858
To opt out of deliveries from unaddressed mail distributors consumers can register with “Your Choice” preference scheme Direct Marketing Association (UK) Ltd. At email@example.com or 020 7291 3300
No cold calling –door stickers . Some Trading Standards services or community police teams provide these
PLAY YOUR PART
ACT ON SCAMS