Fraud, scams & safety – advice for all

Scams hit the headlines almost every day with British consumers estimated to lose around £3.5 billion every year – the equivalent of £70 for every adult in the country. However, it is feared this figure is much, much higher as only 5% of scams victims report it to the authorities.

Scams are schemes to cheat people out of their money. They come in a variety of ways; by post, phone, email, online and sometimes by a knock on the door.

Put simply, scams are designed to cheat someone out of their money or obtain personal details for illegal purposes. Another name for scams is mass marketing fraud because the techniques used are designed to target a large number of people through the mail, telephones and email systems.

If you learn how to recognise a scam or fraud, then you will learn how to protect yourself, your clients, your family and friends. There are many organisations that offer advice and guidance to help you spot a scam, including Trading Standards, Citizens Advice and Action Fraud.

Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Spot it – Discuss it – Report it!

If you think you may have fallen victim to a scam, or know someone that has, report it to Manchester City Council Trading Standards or the police immediately. In many instances it is not possible to recover money already lost, but the quicker we respond with the right advice and support then we can help limit further losses.

Manchester City Council Trading Standards have been working with the Citizens Advice Bureau in an effort to warn people about the hundreds of scams being touted to potential victims every day of the week. For more information visit the Council’s website at www.manchester.gov.uk/

Citizens Advice – if you or anyone in your family might be vulnerable to this sort of crime, find out how you can protect yourself or others, or how to spot a scam – visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website for more information at www.citizensadvice.org.uk

The National Trading Standards Scams Team has launched the ‘friends against scams campaign’ – for more information visit their website at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and financially motivated internet crime. Members of the public, the police, businesses and charities can report online to Action Fraud or by telephone on 0300 123 2040 (local charges apply) or visit their website at www.actionfraud.police.uk

Greater Manchester Police have advice on their website www.gmp.police.uk and you can download their ‘Little book of Big scams’ from their website at www.gmp.police.uk

Contacts

  • Trading Standards can be contacted through the Manchester Contact Centre on tele: 0161 234 5001 or for more advice visit their website at www.manchester.gov.uk
  • Citizens Advice consumer helpline 03454 04 05 06 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) can provide advice and pass details onto Trading Standards; or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
  • Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre; they provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and cyber crime. To report a scam to Action Fraud tele: 0300 123 2040 or report via their website at www.actionfraud.police.uk

Doorstep scams

Doorstep scams involve someone coming to your door, potentially posing as an official, with the intention of scamming you out of money. While there are many legitimate trades people and officials, it is wise to be on your guard when you answer your door. Doorstep scammers can be pushy and persuasive and it can be easy to fall victim.

For further information and advice visit the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/doorstep-scams/ or visit the Greater Manchester Police website www.gmp.police.uk for advice on doorstep crime.

Phone scams and nuisance calls

Not only are phone scams a real problem, but many people also suffer from cold calls, such as unsolicited sales calls, which can feel pushy and intrusive too. It is sometimes difficult to work out when a call is a scam or simply a cold call.

For more information and advice visit the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/phone-scams or www.ageuk.org.uk/cold-calls-and-texts or visit the Greater Manchester Police website at www.gmp.police.uk for advice on nuisance calls.

For information about an unknown number visit the website who-called.co.uk and check the number quickly and easily.

If you have received a scam call or text, or if you have returned the call or text and you now realise it is a scam, you can report it on the website. You can also spread the word to protect others and add new numbers to help others avoid the harassment.

Free Call Blocking Devices: National Training Standards (NTS)
The Department of Culture Media & Sport provided funding to the NTS Scams Team for call blockers to tackle the issue of nuisance calls. The current focus is on protection of consumers with dementia.

The initial phase of the project started in April 2017, when local authorities were asked to identify people living in their communities with dementia that would benefit from a call blocker.

The second phase went live in November 2017, making free call blockers available to any person living with dementia who is receiving scam or nuisance calls.

To get a FREE call-blocking device YES should be answered to the following questions:

  1. Do you or the person you are applying for receive nuisance and scam calls?
  2. Does the person who would like the call blocker have dementia?

If yes to the above then apply on their website at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/callblocker

The units available are trueCall Secure units and more information about the units can be found on the website at www.truecall.co.uk/product-p/tcs.htm

Friends Against Scams
Anyone can be involved in Friends Against Scams for example as a ‘Friend’, SCAM champion or a Friends Against Scams organisation – find out more or access the online training on their website at
www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk

Postal Scams

It is sometimes difficult to spot the difference between scam mail and offers from legitimate companies. If you receive something which you are unsure about, do not respond.

We all get junk mail some of it is actually scam mail. The post is an easy way for scammers to contact their victims from anywhere in the world and remain anonymous. Mail scams come in many guises – fake lottery wins, prize draws and associated catalogues, or clairvoyants demanding money to predict good or prevent bad luck. Mail scams are designed to trick their victims into parting with money, financial or personal details.

Talk about it to someone you trust, or call Age UK Advice on tele: 0800 169 65 65 or for further information and advice visit the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/postal-scams

Crime prevention

For information and advice about security in your home visit the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/security-in-your-home or visit the Greater Manchester Police website www.gmp.police.uk for advice on keeping your home and vehicle secure.

Noisy neighbours

Although we would all like to get along well with our neighbours, sometimes we may face problems to do with noise, planning disputes, or anti-social behaviour.

Find out more about what to do and what rights you have at the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/noisy-neighbours or on Manchester City Council’s website at www.manchester.gov.uk/tackle_a_noise_problem.

Gas and fire safety

Make sure your gas appliances at home are safe and take steps to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

Find out more on the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk/gas-and-fire-safety-at-home or visit the Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service (GMFRS) ‘keeping you safe’ section on their website at www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/keeping-you-safe/.

Investment scams

For a detailed guide to avoiding investment fraud visit the website commodity.link/avoid-scams – the guide covers 9 common investment scams and provides a simple checklist to help people protect their money.

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