Scams awareness fortnight 13 June - 26 June 2022
The focus of this years’ (2022) scams awareness campaign is the cost-of-living crisis.
People of all ages and backgrounds get scammed. Scammers seek to exploit vulnerability – from the coronavirus pandemic to recessions, times of difficulty often see a corresponding increase in related scams and the cost-of-living crisis seems to be no different.
There are lots of different types of scams emerging and examples to look out for include:
- scammers pretending to be energy companies, luring people with “too good to be true” deals in order to steal their money
- fake sales representatives selling counterfeit shopping vouchers
- fraudsters sending out phishing emails pretending to offer and energy rebate or government support to obtain people’s personal information.
It’s important to be on your guard – if you’re not sure about something, take your time and get advice.
Our advice pages below give details of other scams to watch out for and where to go for advice along with details of the Friends Against Scams Initiative and Telford and Wrekin Trading Standards Accredited Trader Scheme.
Spotting a scam
It’s important to always keep an eye out for scams. They can and do affect anyone and some of the main warning signs of scams to look out for include:
- it seems too good to be true – like an email saying you’ve won a competition you don’t remember entering
- someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
- you’re being urged to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or talk to family and friends
- you've been asked to pay for something urgently or in an unusual way – for example by bank transfer or gift vouchers
- you’ve been asked to give away personal information.
If someone thinks they might be being scammed, they should get advice immediately. They can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service for help with what to do next, and report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud.
How to protect yourself from scams
There are some simple steps people can take to help protect themselves from scams:
- don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time
- never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, to anyone you don’t know, trust or have only met online. If someone pressures you for these, it’s most likely a scam
- before you buy anything, check the company or website you’re using. Read reviews from different websites, search for the company’s details on Companies House, and take a look at their terms and conditions
- pay by debit or credit card. This gives you extra protection if things go wrong
- be suspicious. Scammers can be very smart. They can appear like a trusted business or government official, have a professional website and say all the right things.
- take your time to work out if this is a real organisation. Ask them for ID or contact the organisation on a number you know and trust
- don’t click on or download anything you don’t trust
- make sure your antivirus software is up to date
- keep your online accounts secure:
- use a strong password for email accounts that you don't use anywhere else. Choosing three random words is a good way to create a strong and easy to remember password. You can also add in numbers and symbols. If you’re worried about remembering lots of different passwords you can use a password manager
- some websites let you add a second step when you log in to your account - this is known as ‘two-factor authentication’. This makes it harder for scammers to access your accounts
- if you’re not sure about something, get advice from a trusted source.
What to do if someone has been scammed
If someone has been scammed, there are 3 steps they need to take:
Protect themselves from further risks
There are things they can do to stop things getting worse. They should contact their bank immediately to let them know what’s happened. They should also change any relevant log-in details, and check for viruses if they were scammed on a computer.
Check if they can get their money back
If they’ve lost money because of a scam, there might be ways they can get it back. Again, make sure they tell their bank what happened straight away. If they’ve paid for something by card, bank transfer, Direct Debit or PayPal, then depending on the circumstances they might be able to help them get their money back.
Report the scam
Reporting scams helps authorities stop the criminals responsible, and protects others from being scammed. Anyone who’s been scammed should:
- Call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, or on 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh-speaking adviser. We’ll pass on details of the scam to Trading Standards, and can offer further advice
- Report the scam to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud. They'll also give them a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you've been scammed
It’s also important for us to all talk about our experiences with family and friends. By letting them know what’s happened they can be prepared, and together we can put a stop to scams.
Some COVID-19 scams that still exist include:
- Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
- Doorstep cleansing services to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
- Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
- As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
- There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
- Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence.
People are being encouraged to protect their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams. To complete the online modules, visit the Friends Against Scams website.
Members of the public are being urged to keep in contact with family members regularly and inform them of the most prolific scams and the possible dangers to them. If someone has been targeted by a scam it can be reported to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, visit the Citizen Advice website.
You can also avoid being the victim of scam by using a business you know you can trust. Take a look at our Trading Standards Accredited (TSA) website where you will find details of local businesses who are signed up to the scheme. All businesses are checked by Trading Standards and must have relevant insurances, they also sign up to the TSA Code of Practice. In the unlikely event of a problem, the TSA team will work with the customer and member to agree a resolution.
The website is easy to use, search for a member by business category or there’s a handy A-Z. Simply enter your postcode, choose a trade area and your search results will be listed based on members nearest you. If you do not have access to the internet please telephone our contact centre on 01952 381818 and we will carry out the search for you. You don’t have to be a Telford and Wrekin resident, everyone is welcome to use the TSA scheme.
Reduce the number of unwanted callers knocking at your door by displaying a copy of our no cold calling sign. Download and print off a copy at home and display it where someone intending to knock at your door would easily spot it. Alternatively, pick up a ‘self sticking’ copy from the following locations:
- Southwater One
- Darby House
- Citizens Advice, Wellington
- Brookside, Woodside and Sutton Hill Community Centres
- Newport Library.
To learn more about scams and to help raise awareness, we invite you to take a stand against scams and check out the National Trading Standards Scams Team 'Friends Against Scams' campaign.
Other useful links to help you beat the scammers:
- Citizens Advice - spotting scams and how to report them
- Action Fraud - current scams/frauds and how to report them
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - guidance on financial related scams and how to be a ScamSmart investor
- The Pensions Regulator - pension related scams and how to avoid them
- Get Safe Online - wide ranging advice to stay safe online
- Think Jessica - campaign to raise awareness of scam mail.
Register to reduce the amount of unwanted and unsolicited marketing you receive: