July is Scam awareness month.
We visit victims of scams on a regular basis – people who have been victims of rogue trading, doorstep, online, telephone and letter scams. The Citizens Advice Service has joined with the Trading Standards Institute to produce a very good leaflet called “Don’t be Rushed, Don’t be Hushed” that gives useful prevention advice and which we are helping to distribute on our visits.
I have copied out some of the very useful information that is available from this campaign which you can read below:
What is a scam?
A scam is a scheme to con people out of their money. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle, cheat.
Key Facts about scams
£5 billion – the estimated amount lost each year by UK consumers to mass-marketed scams via phone and post.
- Nearly half of people in the UK (48 per cent) have been targeted by a scam.
- Scams by contact method reported to Action Fraud in 2014: telephone (including internet assisted calls) 38 per cent; online sales 20 per cent; email 14 per cent; doorstep/face to face 14 per cent.
- Every year more than three million people in the UK fall victim to scams losing hundreds, sometimes thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
- Just five per cent of scams are reported.
The following are key messages for Scams Awareness Month.
If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- If you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.
- You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
- If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
- Contacted out of the blue – be suspicious.
- Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
- Never send money to someone you have never met.
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
- Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.
- Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
- Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.
- Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
There are four things that consumers can do if they suspect they’re the target of a scam:
CHECK with a trusted friend, relative or neighbour.
GET advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service 08454 04 05 06. or 03454 04 05 05 for a Welsh-speaking adviser: Get online consumer advice and information at: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk. To report a problem to trading standards, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service. Trading Standards are responsible for protecting consumers and the community against rogue and unfair traders.
REPORT scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 http://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 in the scam 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 unwanted contacts.
- Register their number with the Telephone Preference Service http://www.tpsonline.org.uk, 0845 070 0707.
- Report unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner’s Office https://ico.org.uk/concerns/marketing, 0303 123 1113.
- Use a product to block telephone calls. TrueCall http://www.truecall.co.uk
- CallBlocker http://www.cprcallblocker.co.uk
- The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is free and may help reduce unsolicited mail. http://www.mpsonline.org.uk : 0845 703 4599.
- People who want to report a potential postal scam can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail, phone: 03456 113 413, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- No Cold Calling – door stickers. Some trading standard services or community police teams provide these.