Advice to help stop you falling victim to scams or rogue traders
Shropshire Council’s public protection team has offered the following advice to residents to help prevent them falling victim to scams or rogue traders.
Scams and doorstep crime affect the lives of millions of people across the UK and affect every age group and many different types of people.
Potential signs of scams
If you know or visit someone who might be a target you can support them by keeping an eye out for potential signs of scams. Look out for:
- letters piling up – usually from abroad or what looks like junk mail.
- lots of items delivered, such as health or beauty products or fake jewellery.
- people who are anxious when the phone rings, or get a lot of phone calls.
- those who become secretive when discussing finances or have unexplained expenses to ‘friends’.
It could well be a scam when you:
- get a call, text or email out of the blue – genuine companies and banks won’t ask for your full personal or security details.
- are rushed to make a decision or give someone your details – if it’s real, you shouldn’t have to make a decision straight away.
- see a deal that’s very cheap or too good to be true.
- are asked to pay for something up-front, like collecting a loan, or starting a job
- are asked to send money or your bank details to someone you’ve never met, especially friends online.
- get a text or email saying that your bank needs to contact you ‘urgently’ especially if there’s a link to a website or a premium rate number.
Some common scams we see are:
- Copycat Government official service scams.
- Pension advice and investment scams.
- Subscription traps or free trial scams.
- Job scams.
- Computer problems/fixing.
- Tickets for events and concerts.
- Lottery/free prize draw scams.
- Council tax scams.
- Dating scams.
In fact there are so many types of scam that get reported, Action Fraud have produced an A-Z of scams, at: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z_of_fraud
What age group is most likely to fall victim?
It’s often thought that older people are the most likely to fall for scams, but while this does happen, other age groups can be just as likely to be taken in.
We are seeing an increase in social media scams which target people who may consider themselves to be savvy when it comes to be taken in by fraudsters.
Data from Citizens Advice shows:
Young people (18-24) – have seen a sharp rise in the number of victims, and are some of the least likely to report a scam. In particular, young people are found to be a growing proportion of victims of online and identity fraud. It is thought that as this group have grown up surrounded by technology, they are often confident in their ability when using the internet and social media. This can lead to them feeling like they are unlikely to fall for scams targeted at them through these routes, in turn making them complacent and increasing their vulnerability to scams. Citizens Advice research also shows that over half of young people are unlikely to report scams.
The ‘life established’ (45-60s) – are impacted by a range of scams and make up the largest group targeted, but they won’t necessarily report those scams. They are usually targeted by a wide variety of scams because they are more settled and have access to financial assets. This can include anything from pension scams, to dating scams and property scams.
Friends Against Scams
Older people and the socially isolated remain at risk and here in Shropshire we have jointly hosted with National Trading Standards a ‘Friends Against Scams’ event in Shrewsbury to help people find out more about scams and how they can protect themselves and others from being a victim. Friends Against Scams has been created to tackle the lack of scams awareness by providing information about scams and those who fall victim to them.
This information enables communities and organisations to understand scams, talk about scams and cascade messages throughout communities about scams prevention and protection. Friends Against Scams encourages communities and organisations to take the knowledge learnt and turn it into action. For more information go to https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/
Rogue traders come in various guises. Typical work includes roof washing, roof repairs, tarmacing and tree cutting. Our advice is simple – don’t deal with people who call at the door. These people can be very persuasive and some people find it hard to say no. We want friends, neighbours and carers to help anyone who does not feel confident enough to say no, and to turn rogue traders away from their doorstep. A reputable trader will not mind leaving a quote and giving a person time to get further quotes and discuss the work with friends, family and neighbours. This time could also be used to check that the trader is reputable.
You can help by looking out for the following signs and report it:
- A van is parked nearby with workmen in, on, or near your neighbour’s property.
- Work is being carried out on a neighbour’s roof without the use of scaffolding.
- Pressure washers are being used on driveways and/or roofs.
- Trees are removed or pruned in your neighbour’s garden.
- Poor quality work visible on the roof, driveway, or property.
- Your neighbour appears anxious or distressed.
- Your neighbour leaves their house accompanied by a trader.
Rogue traders – advice
The council has officers in its community protection and trading standards teams who can provide advice to help people protect themselves from scams and unscrupulous doorstep callers and, where someone has become a victim, we can provide effective support and help them to stay safe.
If you suspect that a rogue trader has been calling door-to-door, please report it to Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.