That’s the slogan for Citizens Advice Scams Awareness Month this month. The aim of the campaign is all about creating a self-supporting network of confident, alert, consumers. People ready willing and able to spot scams. Visit their website for resources and information. www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/scams-awareness-month/scams-awareness-month/. It is getting scary the large variety of scams that are out there and in how many different ways you can be targeted.
I recently went to a meeting where Marilyn from the Think Jessica organisation (www.thinkjessica.com) talked about the different postal scams that operate and the vulnerable people that they target and exploit. It is devastating how they affect individuals and families, not just financially, but also emotionally often tearing relationships apart.
I think sometimes we make the assumption that it won’t happen to us, that we will avoid it, but this is far from the truth. Due to the ever changing complexity of schemes it can be very easy to fall victim to a scam not matter what your situation. Just recently I heard of a situation where a self-employed friend fell victim to a scam whereby a tax return was submitted in error to a fraudulent website; leading to the tax return payment going to anywhere but HMRC. These websites are extremely clever and very good at appearing to be legitimate. On the whole though unfortunately those that fall prey to scammers are often more vulnerable and as such the consequences of the scam even more severe or catastrophic. This makes tackling scams even more important.
So what should we do?
The advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau is as follows:
What can you do to tackle scams
There are four things that you can do if you suspect that you are 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: www.citizensadvice.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 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.
Jenni Buckland, Chief Operating Officer, advant-age