It’s a horrifying fact that UK citizens are twice as likely to fall victim to fraud than any other crime type and scams cost the UK £5-£10 Billion a year. Criminals target the most vulnerable, with the average age of a scam victim as 75. A Scam victim is 2.5 times more likely to end up in care within a year than their ‘non-scammed’ comparable neighbour.
We are really pleased to have teamed up with the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team to help raise awareness of scams, and importantly, ways to minimise getting caught out by them.
Scams come in many forms; uninvited contact is received by email, letter, telephone or in person, making false promises to con victims out of money. There are many of these types of scams but some of the most common include fake lotteries, deceptive prize draws or sweepstakes, clairvoyants, computer scams and romance scams. Postal, telephone and doorstep scams are often targeted specifically at disadvantaged consumers or those experiencing a period of vulnerability.
The criminals attempt to trick people with flashy, official looking documents or websites, or convincing telephone sales patter, with the aim of persuading them to send money, buy an overvalued or non-existent product, make a premium rate phone call or share their personal information. Doorstep scams are crimes carried out by bogus callers, rogue traders and unscrupulous sales people who call, often uninvited, at people’s homes under the guise of a legitimate business or trade.
The NTS Scams Team runs an initiative called Friends Against Scams (FAS) which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams. The FAS online training tool takes around 20 minutes to complete and can be found on the website www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/elearning/AgeSpace People can also complete the training at a face-to-face session if preferred and these events are advertised on the Friends Against Scams website.
Once someone has completed an awareness session, they become a Friend Against Scams and are asked to make a simple pledge (such as talk to family and friends about what they have learnt). The NTS Scams team are looking to train One Million Friends by 2020 and have so far reached just over 210,000.
For those who would like to do more after becoming a Friend, there is a short training video (also on the website) to become a SCAMchampion. SCAMchampions are volunteers who want to spread the message and hold their own FAS awareness sessions. Once registered they gain access to all of the session resources, they can advertise their sessions on the website and also update the amount of Friends they have trained.
We have pledged to Promote Friends Against Scams on our website to our users, our partners and their employees. AgeSpace will support the Friends Against Scams messaging through any media relations activity they can, including social media.
We would like to invite everyone to complete the online learning and help people in their community to avoid being scammed out of their hard earned money. Scams are fraud, fraud is a crime. For advice on where to report scams and to get extra help with these issues, please visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk. And to get in touch with the team.