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June is scam awareness month. More people are falling victim to scammers posing as professionals from financial and legal services. Such cons now account for a fifth of all scams reported to Citizens Advice’s Consumer Service, CAB says. It saw a 6pc increase of these types of professional and financial scams reported to its Consumer Service this financial year. The median financial loss for all scams over this period was £330.
Citizens Advice and Trading Standards are sharing tips on how to avoid being scammed at events across the country as part of the government-backed campaign. Investment scams in particular – such as cryptocurrency, binary option investments, holiday timeshares – are on the rise, as the number of cases reported to Citizens Advice doubled this year compared to last.
One former finance professional fell for a clone investment scam, after investing £25,000 in a company she thought was legitimate. The scammer had set up a clone website in a regulated investment company’s name so it appeared legitimate. Citizens Advice helped her to report the scam to Action Fraud, her bank and the police.
One working mother turned to Citizens Advice after realising her cryptocurrency investment was a scam. She initially invested £500 in what she thought was Bitcoin and, after receiving daily calls about her growing investment, she continued to invest to a total of £40,000. Citizens Advice helped her take appropriate action.
Citizens Advice is urging anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by a scam to report it to authorities, through the police’s Action Fraud reporting line and the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Fraudsters are using new technology to peddle old tricks, posing as trustworthy professionals with persuasive offers. Anyone can fall victim to these sophisticated scams, but all too often it’s the victim rather than the scammer who are left feeling sheepish. This isn’t right. So, this year we want to break down the stigma around these serious crimes, which are targeted across all levels of society, yet remain under-reported.
“Scams Awareness Month is a great reminder that we should all become familiar with the common signs of scams. People can take action and report any potential scams to the authorities so scammers aren’t walking away with your money in their bank account.”
Department for Business Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Scams like these can have devastating financial and personal costs to those affected. Anyone can fall victim, young or old, which is why I am pleased to work with Citizens Advice to break the stigma and encourage people to speak up. The Government has been cracking down on these crimes. National Trading Standards have stopped over eight million items of scam mail reaching UK customers in the past year alone.”
Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, is suing Facebook in a campaigning lawsuit to stop scam ads.
Staffordshire Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold supports Friends Against Scams. She says: “I am proud to be a SCAMbassador and would encourage all those that are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our #scambassador network. The tactics used by scammers leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors. I’ve seen the emotional pain caused to victims of fraud, it hurts people emotionally, physically and financially. Often the emotional pain is the hardest.”
Advice on how to avoid a scam:
Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Be wary if you’re asked to pay in an unusual way (such as vouchers)
Never send money to someone you have never met
Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You”