ONE in three people (36 per cent) in the South West region have been the target of a scam since lockdown came into effect across the country, finds Citizens Advice Dorset.
Over half of people (58 per cent) are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And the large majority of people (88 per cent), reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams.
There are many new scams around at the moment and fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated ways of accessing personal in- formation such as sending emails pretending to be from the government saying there are problems with people’s direct debit payments for, say, TV licences and asking for banking details to be entered.
As part of #ScamAware fortnight which runs from June 15, Citizens Advice across Dorset and Trading Standards are encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk.
Rovarn Wickremasinghe, chief officer of Citizens Advice Bridport, said: “Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across Dorset. And despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns.
“One third of people in the South West have been targeted by a scam since lockdown began, showing we all need to be on high alert.
“It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.”
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Dorset and Trading Standards are sharing the following tips on how to spot them.
If you’re worried you, or someone you know, could be getting scammed take the following steps:
- Look into installing a call blocker to help combat telephone scams
- Talk to your or their bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity or transactions from their account or credit cards
- Report the scam to Citizens Advice who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam
- For online scams call Citizens Advice Online Scams Action advisers on 0808 250 5050 be- tween 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday
- Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
You can also take the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Stay alert for emails requesting personal in- formation and always check the sender’s email even if it looks official
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call.
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
Contact Citizens Advice if you need help because of a scam. Phone us and leave a message on 01308 456594 or call Dorset AdviceLine on 0344 111 444 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will call you back.