Barnsley Safeguarding Adults Board is backing a call for people to be on their guard against financial and legal scams following a rise in cases reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service.
It is supporting a move by Citizens Advice to show people how to spot scams as it launches Scams Awareness Month 2018 during June, with the theme “don’t miss a trick”.
Older and more vulnerable people are often targeted by scammers. Research has found that 75 is the average age of reported scam victims. Older people, especially those that live alone, are most likely to fall victim to phone and mail scams, and figures from National Trading Standards show that older people are deliberately targeted more than other groups of people. This group also sees the largest proportion of people who are recurring victims of scams, as their details are often sold or passed on between scammers.
Barnsley Trading Standards is working with the National Trading Standards Scams Team to contact local residents who have been identified as having sent money or personal information in response to scam mailshots.
These mailshots often claim that the recipient has won a large prize, but needs to send money to move to the next stage. It is hoped that attempting to speak to consumers directly to explain that this was not a genuine competition will help to deter them being tricked in this way again.
These type of fraudsters will often try and target people in later life who might come from a more trusting generation. National Citizens Advice figures show that the average financial loss for those aged between 75-79 years old was £4,500.
A range of other scams have reported to Citizens Advice, including:
Cryptocurrency - Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend that household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy.
Binary options - Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get people to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. People can check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid
Holiday timeshares - Scammers promise to buy people’s membership off them for an advanced fee.
Bogus solicitors - A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. It’s advisable to check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.
Bob Dyson, Independent Chair of Barnsley Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “Scammers can make for convincing professionals, especially online, and are skilled at persuading people they are legitimate.
“The stakes are high with financial and legal scams as you can end up losing your savings or pension fund, which can put your long-term financial stability at risk.
“When you get approached about any investment, don’t rush into anything without making sure it’s legitimate first, particularly when you’re contacted out of the blue.”
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, the following tips advice on how to spot them:
- 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
- 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”
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
The Citizens Advice consumer service 03454 04 05 06 can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards. People can report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk and are encouraged to speak to a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams they become aware of.
People who are worried about a vulnerable adult can also report any concerns to 01226 773300.
A Barnsley event to raise awareness about scams will take place towards the end of the month.