June 2018 is Scams Awareness Month – an annual opportunity to raise awareness of and tackle these cruel crimes. We hear from Emily Liddle, Campaigns Officer at Citizens Advice Scotland about what to look out for.
Spam emails, cold callers and suspicious activity alerts from your bank; unfortunately, scams and fraud seem to have become a part of our daily lives.
We want to reduce the risk and impact of scams by raising awareness and encouraging people to take action – recognising, reporting and talking about the issues.
Although anyone can be victim to a scam, there are certain groups in society that are more frequently targeted by scammers. Whether this is a young person being targeted via a social media pop-up tying them into a subscription trap or an older person who receives an unexpected visit on their doorstep from a trusted provider without credentials.
Scams aren’t just a minor inconvenience to people. Aside from financial loss, they can cause distress, misery and even if a scam has been avoided, it can lead to widespread loss of confidence.
Underreporting and stigma continue to be barriers in scams and fraud. There are so many types of scams, with new scam tactics consistently emerging and tricking consumers; as well as scams that we don’t know about which makes it very difficult to help, prevent and support those who have fallen victim.
Whilst scammers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, groups of people continue to believe they would never fall victim, feeling they could easily spot a scam, or know how to act. It is this sense of confidence that scammers target and makes people vulnerable.
What should you look out for?
- Beware of offers that use persuasive language to sell you a ‘once in a lifetime’ deal.
- Be cautious providing bank details and personal information over the phone, especially if the caller has called to speak to you from an unknown number.
- Always ask cold callers on your doorstep to provide credentials, don’t be afraid to check ID thoroughly. Never be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ and close the door.
- Be wary of emails asking you to provide personal information or to login to an online site.
- Look out for deals you click online that take you to separate website, is this site secure? Look for a small padlock symbol next to the address bar – this indicates the site is secure.
What should you do if you have been a scams target?
If you think you have been a victim of a scam or suspected scam, don’t be embarrassed. A scam could happen to anyone.
- Get advice: from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who can pass details on to Trading Standards.
- Report: always report scams or suspected scams to Police Scotland on 101
- Tell: friends, neighbours and relatives of any scams you become aware of
- Go online: for advice on spotting, reporting and protecting yourself against scams: visit citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/sam2018/
Scams Awareness Month is a campaign run by Citizens Advice Scotland in partnership with a number of partner consumer organisations such as Trading Standards Scotland, Citizens Advice, Advertising Standards Agency and Government.