PEOPLE are being encouraged to sign up for the Friends Against Scams scheme as part of a 4-year campaign to help beat scammers.
The scheme invites communities and individuals to become friends and encourages individuals to openly talk about scams. Since July 2018 over 480 people in Staffordshire have joined the scheme.
Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service now wants more people to sign up to the initiative and to be able to spot the signs of scams, report them and look out for those who may become victims themselves.
Common scams in Staffordshire include those relating to Coronavirus, online investment offers, fake HMRC emails, bogus bank phone calls, doorstep sales, romance scams and telephone scams.
Whatever the scam, the criminal’s aim will be to get people to part with their cash or to get them to give away their personal data.
Communities leader at Staffordshire County Council, Victoria Wilson said:
“Scams can cause a huge amount of misery, not to mention serious financial losses for those caught up in them.
“To try and help people to be more aware of scams and avoid them, we’re asking groups and individuals to join the Friends Against Scams scheme. This will give them the confidence to spot and prevent them or to know what to do if family or friends fall victim.
“Criminals are becoming much more sophisticated and professional these days and will try any method to defraud their victims. Many scams appear genuine and it can be really difficult to tell what’s what. If people are in any doubt at all they should ignore the offer, delete emails, hang up the phone or politely refuse doorstep calls. People should always be wary about an unsolicited approach.”
Some tips to avoid phone scams:
- Anyone suspecting a phone scam should hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call their bank.
- Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix people’s computers.
- Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious. Reject cold calls offering investments or pension advice.
- To find out more or to check your eligibility and register for call blocker devices, please contact Staffordshire Trading Standards Confidential hotline – 01785 330356
Some tips to avoid email scams:
- Always look at the email address of the sender if you feel unsure. It never hurts to Google search the email address as that may reveal if it is real or not
- Never click on a link from an unsolicited email
- Don’t open attachments on suspicious emails as these can put you at risk of identity theft
Some tips to avoid doorstep scams:
- Never agree to work on the house or garden by someone who knocks at the door uninvited
- Don’t give money to or sign any forms for people who turn up on the doorstep
- And don’t open the door to strangers or allow uninvited callers into the home
People can find out more about avoiding scams or sign up for the Friends Against Scams’ scheme at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/friendsagainstscams