Scams Awareness Month
by Ali Craythorne
June marks Scams Awareness Month, an annual Citizens Advice campaign where we raise awareness of how to spot, avoid and report scams. Citizens Advice Manchester we will be working in partnership with Trading Standards, campaigning in the community and delivering a number of training sessions to help the public to become scam-aware.
According to the Local Government Association fraud is currently the most common form of crime. In 2017, there were 3.6 million cases reported in England and Wales, which equated to around £10 billion lost in this area alone. This is likely to be much higher as an astonishing 95% of scams go unreported.
Due to the economic climate and accessibility of information, scammers are targeting people more than ever. The breadth and range of this type of crime is huge. Action Fraud identifies over 100 different types of fraud and this figure will grow as techniques evolve and become more sophisticated.
Scams pose a real risk to financial security, and many victims get into debt and experience poverty as a result of being scammed. At Citizens Advice we receive over 3,000 contacts (face to face, email, webchat, telephone) every quarter from people who have been targeted by scams. We also receive reports from people that are unable to pay for essentials such as utilities and food as a consequence of being scammed. Some of the most common types include emails and texts purporting to be from banks and financial agencies aiming to extract passwords and login details. We see lots of fake lottery and inheritance emails that require you to pay fees before your windfall is ‘released’; fake adverts and look alike websites offering non existent ‘designer goods’ at bargain prices; and rogue traders who systematically target the most vulnerable people in society with bogus and often unnecessary repairs. Most worryingly, we now receive reports that people are receiving calls claiming to come from Citizens Advice and trying to take bank details, supposedly to resolve a financial issue.
Scammers succeed because they prey on human needs and desires. They are designed to provoke an emotional response whether this be fear, excitement, lust or greed. Whilst anyone can be a victim of a scam, research conducted by Citizens Advice in 2017 indicates that older people, people with lower levels of education and those on low incomes are less likely to recognise a scam. In 2007, Trading Standards warned that there were approximately 300,000 people held on ‘scam lists’ in the UK and that they expected this to rise to 1 million by 2019.
If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, we would always advise that you report this to Action Fraud, or call our Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 if you need further support.
If you would like to attend our training on how to become more scam aware please book on this link
Barry is an elderly man with chronic health problems. A scammer knocked on his door explaining that Barry’s roof needed urgent repairs. The scammer charged him £2,000 for the repairs and never returned. Barry emptied his bank account and borrowed £500 from a friend. He was left unable to pay his utility bills and has now got into arrears.