Spot Scams! – Stop Scams! Awareness Campaign.

Partners in consumer education and crime prevention are taking part in a scam awareness event as part of the national Citizens Advice Scam Awareness Campaign 2013.

Staff from Inverness Badenoch & Strathspey Citizens Advice Bureau, Stay Safe Project and The Highland Council’s Trading Standards Service will be on hand to answer queries and provide practical advice on scam prevention to members of the public at a joint stand on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at the Eastgate Centre, Inverness.

Figures show that every year more than three million people in the UK fall victim to scams losing hundreds if not thousands of pounds.  It is estimated that nearly half the people in the UK (48 per cent) have been targeted by a scam and that £3.5 billion is lost each year to scams. 

Alasdair Christie, General Manager of Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey CAB explains: “Often members of the public who contact us for advice feel deeply frustrated by the sheer volume and scale of scam emails, mailings and unsolicited telephone calls they receive on a daily basis.  The effect is that people from all walks of life find they are worn down by constantly being bombarded by scams from every direction.  Along with our consumer partners we hope to provide practical help to those who feel overwhelmed by these contacts and assist those victims, where possible, in trying to get their money back.”  

Stay Safe Project Coordinator, Evelyn Sinclair, is also delighted to be part of the ‘Scam Awareness’ event in Inverness said: “At the Stay Safe project we urge people to be aware of potential scams through talks to local groups for the ‘over 50’s’ in and around the Inverness area.  Our aim is to reach as many vulnerable and older people as possible in an attempt to prevent any more people becoming victims of scam related crimes.”

She adds: “We also hope to use this event as an opportunity to recruit more ‘volunteer speakers’ to help tackle scams throughout the Highlands and also promote the extent of our work carried out by our volunteer organisation.” 

In a report commissioned jointly by Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice (covering England & Wales) the plight of real-life case study victims were highlighted. The report published in June 2011, entitled “Desperate Time, Desperate Consumers – CAB evidence on consumer problems caused or exasperated by the recession” illustrated the vulnerability of ordinary consumers who may find themselves financially restrained due to high living costs and/or a change in personal circumstances.  The report cases highlighted the plight of victims of ‘investment scams’ and ‘compensation refund scams’ (PPI claims for bank loans, credit cards etc) where particularly persuasive scammers preyed on desperate consumers seeking to increase their income. 

Gordon Robb, Highland Council Trading Standards Manager hopes that members of the public will take the opportunity to visit the information stand at the Eastgate Centre, Inverness. He explains: “The joint Scam Awareness event is an excellent opportunity to highlight the issue and to encourage members of the public to be on their guard against scams and receive advice, information and assistance regarding scam crime prevention. By raising scam awareness we also hope to also encourage victims of scam crime, who may feel isolated and helpless, to come forward with information.”

Visitors to the stand can pick up information on how to protect themselves from scams and/or what to do if they think they may be victim of scam crime.
The stand is open at Eastgate Centre, Inverness on Tuesday 21 May 2013 from 9am to 4pm.

Consumers can also receive free advice about scams and other consumer problems from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.
Highland Trading Standards can be contacted at 38 Harbour Road, Inverness IV1 1UF or by e-mail to trading.standards@highland.gov.uk.

For further Highland Trading Standards news please go to:  /tradingstandardsnews

14 May 2013
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