People across Staffordshire are being urged to spot the signs of scams, report them and look out for those who may become victims themselves during a national awareness week.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team is part of the Friends Against Scams campaign which is holding a national awareness week from today, November 19, to mark its second anniversary.
The team is reminding people to be aware of the risk of scams whether online, on the phone, through the post or on the doorstep.
The Friends Against Scams campaign highlights the many different types of scams and the extent of con tricks which pose a threat to people’s finances and wellbeing. It invites communities and individuals to become ‘friends’ and encourages people to openly talk about scams with family, friends and neighbours.
Since July 2018 in Staffordshire over 320 people have joined, with over 35 visits being made to scams victims, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable.
The trading standards team has also taken part in the national call blocker project, providing call blockers to people vulnerable to scam and nuisance calls.
Each year millions of people in the UK fall prey to scammers though it is thought less than five per cent report them. According to industry group, UK Finance, more than £500m has already been stolen from customers of British banks in the first half of this year.
Common scams include online investment offers, bogus bank phone calls asking for personal details, doorstep sales, online job adverts asking for an upfront fee, offers for goods and services and fake prize draw winnings.
Communities leader at Staffordshire County Council Gill Heath said:
Scams can cause a huge amount of misery for those caught up in them, not to mention serious financial losses. Through the Friends Against Scams campaign we making people aware of the different types of scams and ultimately help them avoid being scammed themselves.
Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days and will try any method to defraud their victims.
We would always advise that if something appears too good to be true then it usually is, but we understand many scams appear genuine. If people are in any doubt at all they should ignore the offer, hang up the phone or politely refuse doorstep calls. People should always be wary about an unsolicited approach.
We’re now urging more people to get involved with the campaign and join the fight against scams.”
Tips to avoid phone scams include:
• Anyone suspecting a phone scam should hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call their bank.
• Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix people’s computers.
• People should always be suspicious if contacted out of the blue
• Reject cold calls offering investments or pension advice.
People can find out more about avoiding scams at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk or by calling the national consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.