Fighting Back Against the £5 billion scammers
National Trading Standards has launched an initiative to help people recognise and deal with scams
3 min read
Scams are big business for fraudsters and cost UK consumers more than £5 billion every year. While we may feel confident that it could never happen to us, a study conducted by the University of Exeter found that victims are generally not weak decision-makers; in fact many have successful businesses or professional careers.
Investments scams look and sound believable, with smooth-talking salespeople, slick websites and sophisticated brochures making it hard to tell them from the real thing. But after an initial friendly approach the fraudsters begin to pile on the pressure, using manipulative and even aggressive language and making up to 30 phone calls a day to bully victims into parting with their money.
To fight back against the criminals a new initiative called Friends Against Scams has been launched by the National Trading Standards Scams Team. By providing training online and at local venues it aims to create a network of people with the skills and confidence to recognise and deal with scams to protect themselves, their neighbours and their loved ones.
Professor Stephen Lea of the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology, who led the research team, says: “Modern economic life is complicated and we have to use all sorts of short cuts and rules of thumb to navigate our way through it. Scammers take advantage of those necessary, everyday processes. This means that no-one is immune to being scammed. We need to be on our guard, both for ourselves and for our friends and family. If you have any worries that something might be a scam, you need to talk to someone else about it: It very likely is.”
The research, carried out for the Office of Fair Trading, found that a good background knowledge of a subject, such as experience of investments, could actually increase the chances of being scammed by making victims over-confident. It also concluded that many victims were too embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened and were often vulnerable to being duped again.
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Louise Baxter, Team Manager at the National Trading Standards Scams Team, says: “It is time that we took a stand against scams. Friends Against Scams aims to tackle the lack of scams awareness by providing information to enable communities and organisations to understand scams, talk about scams and convey messages throughout communities about scam prevention and protection. I’d encourage anyone interested in stopping scams to visit the Friends Against Scams website and sign up.”
Coutts takes the security of our customers’ wealth very seriously. Hundreds of staff have already completed the Friends Against Scams training but we have many other initiatives. These include CouttsID, a UK banking industry first, which uses mobile phones to alert users to any unauthorised logins or attempted payments from their accounts and requires them to confirm the transaction.
Coutts is urging people to take part in the National Trading Standards’ Friends Against Scams initiative and develop the skills to identify and tackle scams to protect themselves, their neighbours and loved ones.
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