June is this year’s Scams Awareness month and the Trading Standards team at Orkney Islands Council is reminding people to be on their guard for scams which can target all age groups.
Figures released nationally by the Citizens Advice Bureau advise that three quarters of people have been targeted by scams in the last two years via mail, phone calls, text messages, emails, online or face to face.
Just over one in 10 people know friends or family members who have lost money to a scam, while out of 10 people targeted by a scam do not tell anyone about it, possibly because they are embarrassed if they have lost money.
Less than one fifth of incidents of fraud are brought to the attention of agencies such as the Police or Trading Standards but the estimated amount lost each year to scams and fraud in the UK is 10.9 billion pounds.
Scams Awareness Month is focusing on young people, people aged 40 to 60, older people, and those who are socially isolated.
Recent cases reported in Orkney have involved the loss of five figure sums though banking and phone scams.
“These are devastating for those affected and unfortunately there can be no guarantee that the money will be refunded,” said local trading standards officer Alison Campbell. “Those affected have reported how plausible the approaches can be.”
Scams come in all guises. Callers may ring using an Orkney area code to make you think the caller is local.
They may use ‘number spoofing’ - where the number displayed on your phone is the same as the number on your bank card.
The caller may have a Scottish accent, be pleasant to speak to and provide what appears to be kind advice if you express concerns about the subject of the call.
The main messages of Scams Awareness Month are:
Get advice if you have been the target of a scam or are unsure about an approach. You can contact:
Scams can be reported online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ so that a UK wide picture is established for fraud, but you can also report to any of the organisations listed above. If the scam involves your debit/credit cards, online banking or cheques the first step should be to contact your bank or credit card company.
If you share your experiences with others, they are less likely to be affected by scams themselves and can share that information with other people that they know.
Young people are unlikely to report a scam, should it happen to them.
Although anyone can fall victim to a scam, statistics show that people in this age range are the most affected by scams. People in this age group are more vulnerable to a wide range of scams, due to their personal circumstances.
Older people are often targeted by a range of scammers a number of times.
People who are socially isolated can be the hardest to reach and often can’t access the same support to protect themselves from scams.