From our first purchase to our last, scammers are waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting, the vulnerable, the shopper short of time, the consumer looking for a bargain.
July is National Scams Awareness Month and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, local Citizens Advice and trading standards offices are seeking to raise awareness.
Scams come in all shapes and sizes – from the rogue trader charging for unwanted and badly-done driveways to fake and potentially life threatening products sold online.
Consider email scams about non-existent lottery wins demanding payment up front, followed up by an endless stream of more and more threatening scam emails, or investment opportunities based on thin air which can rob someone of their life savings, and the picture appears to be bleak.
Research has shown that 45 to 60-year-olds are most affected, and by a wide range of scams, often losing large amounts of money. But there is also a disturbing rise in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds being scammed – the group least likely to report a scam.
The message during this year’s Scams Awareness month is: ‘Play your part, act on scams’.
The general public is urged to be more aware of how they could be scammed, and to report it if they get caught out. With so many people being snagged by scammers there is no reason to be embarrassed – and every reason to report incidents and help authorities put a stop to it.
Aberdeenshire Trading Standards are this year working with Royal Mail to help identify victims of scam mail so that they can be offered advice and support on how to protect themselves.
Team members will conduct a number of training sessions at local depots so that postmen and women have the knowledge to enable them to identify vulnerable people who may need assistance.
The service is also highlighting the Friends Against Scams website, encouraging everyone to take part in the short online training session and become a ‘Friend Against Scams’.
The website has lots of useful information on what to look out for and how to protect yourself and your friends and family from scams. See it at: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/
A number of roadshows will take place across Aberdeenshire – follow the Trading Standards Team on Twitter for information on locations and timings @AberdeenshireTS
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: “We all have a role to play in educating ourselves and others about scams.
“There are many websites with helpful advice such as Friends Against Scams and Citizens Advice, and of course people can get direct help from and report any scams to 03454 04 05 06.
“Scams Awareness Month is a great opportunity to focus on this increasing problem and get the message out to ‘Play your part, act on scams’.”
Chartered Trading Standards Institute chief executive, Leon Livermore, said: “Too many people are suffering from being scammed in silence and criminals getting away with their money – in some cases to the point where the victim needs to sell their very home to pay them off.
“This campaign to raise awareness is vital –and we want people to not only report being scammed but to look out for each other.”