All you need to know to protect yourself against scams as Citizens Advice Hartlepool launches new campaign

People are being warned to be on their guard against scams ahead of a two-week campaign starting next month.

By Peter Tennick
Monday, 27 May, 2019, 12:30
Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager Joe Michna is warning people to be on their guard against scams.

The Scam Awareness Campaign takes place over two weeks from June 10 to June 23 and is being organised by Citizens Advice, The Chartered Trading Standards Institute and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Citizens Advice Hartlepool is leading the campaign locally and bosses are urging people to be on their guard and get help.

A scam is a scheme to try to steal money, personal information or data from a person or organisation. Other names for a scam include fraud, hoax, con, swindle and cheat.

General facts about scams

* The National Audit Office recently estimated that individuals lose £10 billion a year due to fraud;

* The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated there were 3.5 million incidents of fraud for the year ending September 2018.

According to Citizens Advice research:

* Almost 72% of people have been targeted by scammers in the last two years, either via email, phone calls, text messages, emails, online and face-to-face;

* Over a third of people (37%) have been targeted 5 times or more.

There are dozens of different types of scams, from more well-known scams such as investment scams or upfront payment scams, to new or more niche scams, like copycat government official services scams.

How to spot a scam

Its’s easier to spot a scam if you know what to look for.

Be careful if :

* Something has come out of the blue or from someone you don’t know;

* It sounds out of the ordinary – like you have won the lottery;

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* You are asked to pay for something in advance – especially by bank transfer or gift vouchers;

* You are asked for personal information , like your bank account details;

* You are being urged to respond quickly so you do not get time to think about it or talk to family and friends;

* You are asked to phone an expensive number.

There are three things that consumers can do if they suspect they have been the target of a scam:

* Get advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06;

* Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040;

* Tell family and friends, neighbours so that they can avoid scams.

Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager Joe Michna said: “The scams awareness campaign is an annual opportunity to raise awareness and empower people to take action against these crimes.

"Scams are not just a minor inconvenience to people. Aside from financial loss, they can cause distress , misery and even if a scam has been avoided, it can lead to a widespread loss of consumer confidence.

"That’s why, as with previous scams awareness campaigns, we want to reduce the risk and impact of scams by raising awareness of the issue and encouraging people to take action.

"Scams are many and varied , with increasing complexity and sophistication. By arming people with the knowledge they need to recognise a scam , they can protect themselves and those around them, preventing harm in the first place.

"We want consumers to know how to spot the warning signs of scam, and if they think they are being targeted to stop and seek advice on what to do next.

“We are here to help. "

People can visit the office at 87 Park Road, Hartlepool, and they have drop-in sessions four days a week when no appointments are need. These drop-in sessions are between 9.30am and 3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

People can also email: enquiries@hartlepool.cabnet.org.uk or email Joe at: manager@hartlepool.cabnet.org.uk