Drop them in it! – Scam Awareness Day in Sutherland

Issued by East Sutherland Citizens Advice Bureau

Most of us have experienced the text, phone call or email that tells us that we have won some mysterious lottery or a prize draw that we just don’t quite remember entering. In the main we recognise these for what they are, a scam! Some criminal element in an unknown location chancing their hand in an effort to make us part with our cash or provide our bank account details to deposit our winnings, when in actual fact what they are wanting to do is take as much money out as possible.

The initial reaction to these messages are, wow how lucky am I, followed closely by the realisation that you didn’t enter the lottery and you have never heard of the prize draw and it sinks in that this is a scam.

The figures that have been gathered about such scams are quite staggering; they show that consumers in the UK lose around £3.5 billion to scams every year. The temptation to respond to these promises of either big cash prizes or get quick rich schemes is obviously quite compelling, but the general rule of thumb is, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

As part of the Highland Consumer Partnership Highland CAB and The Highland Council Trading Standards are working together in the national Scam Awareness campaign. We think that it is time to fight back and with that in mind, East Sutherland Citizens Advice Bureau and Highland Council Trading Standards Department are combining to tackle local concerns about scams.

To that end representatives from both organisations will be at Golspie and Dornoch Service points on May the 21st to answer any queries, provide information and to give anyone the opportunity to drop off any scam correspondence that they may have received. In addition we would encourage anyone who has any concerns regarding any such correspondence that they have received to call into our Golspie Office or any of our outreach clinics in Brora, Dornoch or Bonar Bridge. 

Here are some other messages of the campaign.

Ways to Spot Signs of a scam

• The call, letter, e-mail or text has come out of the blue.
• You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about.
• You didn’t buy a ticket (you can’t win a competition you didn’t enter!)
• They are asking you to send money in advance.
• They are saying you have to respond quickly.
• They are telling you to keep it a secret.
• They seem to be offering you something for nothing.
• They are telling you to keep it a secret.

How to protect yourself better against Scams

• Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
• Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to the businesses that should already hold your details.
• Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.
• If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
• Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You.”
• Resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
• Never send money to someone you don’t know.
• Walk away from job adverts that ask for money in advance.
• Ask friends, neighbours or family about whether an offer is likely to be a scam.

Members of the public wanting to report a scam can also contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06 by phone.   Further information and events relating to Scam Awareness Month can be found at: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam14 or through a smart phone at: #ScamAware

16 May 2014