June is Scams Awareness Month, which is an annual opportunity to raise awareness and take a stand against the crimes and predatory practices which affect millions of people.
Research by Citizens Advice shows that 72 per cent of people surveyed had been targeted by fraudsters over a two-year period (2015-2017), and over a third had been targeted five or more times.
Scams are a growing problem. According to the latest data (for the year ended September 2017) provided by the Crime Survey for England and Wales, there was a seven per cent increase in the number of fraud offences recorded (662,519) compared with the previous year. This continues the year-on-year increases seen over the last five years.
It is thought that less than five per cent of those who have been swindled report the scams and, in addition to the financial cost, scams also cause emotional trauma and loss of confidence in victims.
Led by Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and backed by Trading Standards teams across the UK, the campaign is reminding people to take a moment and trust their gut instinct so that they get advice, report scams and tell others about their experiences.
This year’s campaign – ‘Don’t miss a trick, be scam aware’ – will continue to focus on those frequently targeted for scams, and advice for dealing with phone scams includes the following:
• 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.
• Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
• Reject cold calls offering investment or pension advice.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, make sure you report it and do not feel embarrassed about doing so, because scammers rely on failure to report to be able to perpetuate their activities.
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