Fighting Scams and Making Friends
Fighting scams and making friends
Fighting scams and trying to help the people who are affected by scams is a personal battle of mine. The support for this issue has grown so much in the last three years; it feels like an avalanche – albeit a welcome one.
How do postal scams work?
One of the ways that scammers commonly contact people is through the post. The most common sorts of postal scams are fake lottery letters, bogus prize draws and misleading clairvoyant letters. Once somebody has responded to one letter they get added to a list and their details are sold on to other criminals. At the National Training Standards Scams Team, we have seen people who are receiving 60 letters a day, six days a week. Small amounts add up and £25 a day, six days a week for 20 years is a loss of £156,500! This situation is far more common than you think. People that receive these letters are usually over 70.
Language of scams
Let’s be clear these sort of scams are fraud and fraud is a crime . People who fall victim to scams are victims of crime in their own home. In the National Trading Standards Scams Team we want a scam-free nation. We can’t do this on our own, everyone has a part to play, we need to do this together.
People, being proactive and in partnership
For me, it’s about the ‘Three Ps.’ Firstly, people. We should always remember that we are talking about someone’s mum, brother, aunt or other family member. Labelling people as vulnerable victims is disempowering, we want to empower people to make safe and wise decisions.
To do this we need to be proactive. Why wait for people to go to the bank to draw out £5,000 for a fake foreign lottery? We should be doing more to educate people on how to spot and avoid a scam and identify and support potential victims.
Lastly, we can’t act in isolation. If we want to make a real difference to this issue and help those at risk of being targeted, we need to work in partnership. We need to create scam-aware communities: let’s look out for our neighbours and other local people and check for the tell-tale signs of scams.
During Scams Awareness Month this year we are starting to promote a new initiative Friends Against Scams with a view to a public launch in October 2016. During next year’s Scams Awareness Month we will be asking all friends and partners to talk even more about scams and to drive scams out of our local areas. Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.
For more information contact Friendsagainstscams@eastsussex.gov.uk
If you, or someone you know, is receiving something that looks like scam mail, report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service Helpline: 03454 040506.