Citizens Advice launches national scams awareness campaign 2019
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 a scam, and if they think they are being targeted to stop and seek advice on what to do next.
Data from a recent Crime Survey in England and Wales suggests that only around 13% of fraud incidents are reported by the victim, either to the police or Action Fraud. With so many scams left unreported, it creates an incomplete picture and reduces the ability of enforcement to effectively tackle fraud across the country. Confusion in the reporting system needs to be addressed. Consumers need to know how to report scams, not only to improve the quality of data collected to help tackle fraud, but to empower people to take action.
Scams can be highly sophisticated and often use social engineering to prey on people. Anyone can be vulnerable to scams, and yet we still don’t talk enough about them. Research shows that those impacted by scams often still feel a sense of shame about falling victim to them. As the ONS has reported, this stigma can contribute to under-reporting, and stifles conversations around protecting yourself and others.
We want to get rid of the stigma around scams and encourage people to work together to stop them. However you choose to take part in the campaign, you’re helping to give consumers the awareness to protect themselves, their families and communities – not just in June, but all year round.
Following the success of previous years, our content and messaging will continue to be aimed at those who are the most targeted by or vulnerable to scams. This year we are taking a new approach to the campaign, running it over two weeks instead of a month. The first week will look at the group who have the highest detriment from scams, whilst the second week will focus on those who are most targeted by scams in volume.
By promoting or highlighting specific messages to each target group, we hope to continue to reach more people and help those who are targeted most by scams. However, we appreciate that partners may have different audiences, and there is flexibility within this campaign to allow participating organisations to target other groups as well, under the banner of ‘Stop, Report, Talk’. Scams can affect anyone, so all efforts to raise awareness of the issue can make a real difference.
Using the available data, and in consultation with the Consumer Protection Partnership, we have identified two groups to target with the campaign:
Life established (40s-60s)
‘Life established’ is the term we are currently using for the mid-40 to mid-60 age range of people. In terms of raw numbers, this is the group that are most affected by scams. Part of this is due to the fact that they are more likely to report scams, but it may also be due to their circumstances, for example being a homeowner or having access to financial assets.
When looking at those who are most vulnerable to high-detriment scams older people by far skew the highest in terms of those most affected. 75 is the average age of reported scam victims and those over-70 have the highest detriment from a number of different types of scams. Older people tend to fall victim most to phone and mail scams.
The materials developed for this group will also be relevant for other groups who may traditionally be seen as more vulnerable to scams. For example:
- Those who are considered to be socially isolated. They are more likely to live alone and so often don’t have that immediate support network which can make them easier to manipulate.
- Those with long term health conditions or disabled people. According to Citizens Advice data, when compared to the general population this group were more likely to be victims of phishing and other banking scams (37% vs 29%), and prizes and lottery scams (41% vs 29%).
Whilst saying this, it is important to note that we are all susceptible to being vulnerable to scams. Vulnerability is not a personal trait but a state in which one finds oneself; anyone can find themselves vulnerable.
If you want to report a scam call the Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06
If you have been scammed report it to Action Fraud at: www.actionfraud.police.uk
If you want to know more about our national campaign, visit Citizens Advice’s website at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-campaigns/all-our-current-campaigns/scams-awareness-campaign-2019
If you want to know more about the work of Coventry Trading Standards on scam protection visit: www.coventry.gov.uk/info/30/trading_standards/412/scams_and_warnings