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Spot Scams, Stop Scams – Scam Awareness Month 2014

1st May 2014

Partners in consumer education and crime prevention are jointly spearheading a national Scam Awareness Campaign which will run throughout May 2014.

The Highland Consumer Partnership (Highland Council Trading Standards, Citizens Advice Scotland and Highland Citizens Advice Bureaux) have prepared joint activities and scam prevention information for consumers across the Highlands and Islands.

Each week a themed activity, event or scam prevention information will be available to the public to coincide with the following four key themes:

• Online Scams from Thursday 1 May ( Launch Date)
• Mail Scams week beginning 12 May
• Telephone Scams week beginning 19 May
• Doorstep Scams week beginning 26 May

Both The Highland Council Trading Standards and Highland Citizens Advice Bureaux have seen a recent spike in scam reporting from consumers, some of whom feel worn down by the sheer volume of scam phone calls, emails, letters and texts that they receive.

Gordon Robb, The Highland Council Trading Standards Manager, hopes that members of the public will engage with the joint campaign and come forward with information about scams currently in operation. He said: “Working with our partners we hope to advise Highland consumers to be on their guard against scams and encourage victims to report scam crime.”

A recent background report to Scam Awareness Month, compiled by Citizens Advice Bureau and Trading Standards Institute show that more than 3 million fall victim to scams each year. In particular, online shopping and auction scams were the most common fraud reported in 2013 and cost UK consumers around £63.3 million.

Alasdair Christie, General Manager of Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey CAB explains: “As well as provide practical help to assist victims of scams, we have also agreed to pass on information on the type of scams being reported to us to enable Highland Council Trading Standards to collate and further investigate current scams as part of the ongoing campaign and our partnership role.”.

As part of the launch on Scam Awareness Month, Highland Council Trading Standards will send out ‘tweets’ highlighting particular scams and providing advice and information on the four key themes above.

Gordon Robb added: “One of the aims of the Highland Consumer Partnership is to reach a wider audience and reach out to those consumers who may not traditionally have contacted either the Citizens Advice Bureau or trading standards for advice and support in the past. By providing scam prevention information through social media outlets such as twitter and Facebook we also wish to receive crucial intelligence as to the type of scams which are targeting local communities in the Highlands.”

The first theme of the campaign focuses on ‘Online Scams’. Here are some recent examples of types of scams currently operating in the UK:

Online free trials –Some legitimate companies do offer free samples. Unfortunately, consumers may not be aware that they have to cancel their contract before the free trial period ends in order to prevent further payments being deducted from their debit or credit card. Products associated with this type of online free trial scam include: anti-aging creams and serums; slimming pills and/or vitamin pills.

- Phishing emails – consumers can be duped into opening phishing emails as they may think it is a genuine email from someone they do business with already such as their bank or building society. Consumers should not open any suspicious emails sent to them and contact their bank or building society branch.

- Paying online – Advice to consumers is that they should always keep their bank card details safe when making payments online. Consumers should only type their card details on secure websites and should look out for a web address beginning with ‘https’ and a golden padlock. Consumers should report any suspicious payments taken from their debit or credit card to their bank or building society immediately.

Both The Highland Council Trading Standards and Highland Citizens Advice Bureau throughout the region have information postcards and leaflets for members of the public regarding scam prevention tips. “Spot Scams! Stop Scams” posters will also be distributed to High Life Highland Libraries for display during Scam Awareness Month.

Members of the public wanting to report a scam can also contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06 by phone.
Further information and events relating to Scam Awareness Month can be found at: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam14 or through a smart phone at: #ScamAware

 

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