Citizens Advice Newcastle and Trading Standards launch Scams Awareness Month.
People need to be on their guard against financial and legal scams following a rise in cases reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service. Citizens Advice Newcastle is now showing people how to spot scams as it launches Scams Awareness Month.
A total of 1200 financial and legal scams were reported to the consumer service in the year ending April 2018 - a 6% increase on the year before.
The median loss for these scams was £330.
A range of investments scams were reported to the consumer service, including:
Cryptocurrency - Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend that household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy.
Binary options - Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid
Holiday timeshares - Scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee.
Bogus solicitors - A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.
Shona Alexander, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Newcastle said “Scammers can make for convincing white collar professionals, especially online, and are skilled at persuading people they are legitimate.
“The stakes are high with financial and legal scams as you can end up losing your savings or pension fund, which can put your long-term financial stability at risk.
“When you get approached about any investment, don’t rush into anything without making sure it’s legitimate first, particularly when you’re contacted out of the blue.”
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Newcastle is sharing tips on how to spot them:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you have never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You”
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
Citizens Advice Newcastle and Trading Standards held an event to help people know when they’ve been targeted with a scam.
The event is part of Scams Awareness Month in June, a national campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams.
People learnt about the common signs of a scam, such as receiving an offer that sounds too good to be true or being told to pay an advance fee for an item or service.
Attendees were also encouraged to report scams so that the police can take action and they can get advice on how to try and get their money back.
The event took place on the 6th June at the Grainger Market.
Nicola Diston, Energy and Consumer Champion at Citizens Advice Newcastle, said ‘Don’t miss a trick, be scams aware’ is our message to people.
“While there might be new scams cropping up all the time, the tactics of scammers remain the same. From getting contacted out of the blue to being pressured to sign up to a deal on the spot, our event will reveal the tell-tale signs of a scam that people need to keep an eye out for.
“While all of us can have the bad luck of being targeted with a scam, we hope this event will stop more scammers from running off with people’s money.”
Cllr Nick Kemp, Cabinet Member for Environment said “All scams have the same impact, which is exploiting people. New technology means the advance of new scams.
“The basic principle remains the same, if something sounds too good to be true, then it almost certainly will be.
“The City Council works closely with Citizens Advice Newcastle to highlight scams and make sure people are aware of their impact, how to report them and seek advice if necessary”
If people are in doubt about whether or not an offer is genuine, they should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service or their local Citizens Advice.
If people have been scammed they should report it to Action Fraud.