Tower Hamlets Council shares top tips for Scam Awareness Month

Tower Hamlets Council is committed to protecting its residents from scams and will be sharing some top tips over the next 30 days for Scam Awareness Month.

The Council is supporting the Don’t miss a trick, be scam aware campaign which was launched this month by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Citizen’s Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of scams and to protect the public.

The council is encouraging everyone to report suspected scams or fraudulent activity to Citizen’s Advice. It’s estimated that only 5-15% of scams are currently reported.

Citizens Advice found that across the United Kingdom almost three quarters of people surveyed had been targeted by a scam between 2015 and 2017.

Mayor John Biggs said: “We’re supporting the Don’t miss a trick, be scam aware campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with scams and to help ensure our residents don’t become victims.

“Scams can be difficult to identify and can leave victims with financial problems and experiencing extreme distress. I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of a scam to report their experience.”

Cllr David Edgar, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We aim to protect Tower Hamlets residents from scams and this campaign will help achieve this by raising awareness. The council’s social media channels and website will be sharing Citizen Advice’s top tips to help people identify and report scams.”

The Chief Executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Leon Livermore, said: "It’s worrying that scams victims still feel reluctant to come forward and report a crime. Nobody should suffer in silence.

“It is therefore reassuring and heartening to know that devoted trading standards and consumer protection champions around the country are tirelessly working in the background in spite of resource cuts, to help raise awareness and drive down criminal behaviour.”

If you know of a scam, or have been scammed, don’t miss a trick. Call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Top tips on how to avoid a scam

  • Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
  • Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Be wary if you’re asked to pay in an unusual way (such as vouchers)
  • Never send money to someone you have never met
  • Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
  • Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
  • Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
  • Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
  • Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No thank you”
  • Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams

Types of scams

  • Ticketing fraud – tickets for popular events and festivals often sell out quickly, then are offered for resale on secondary websites or by ticket touts outside the venue.  These tickets may be fake, cost far more than their face value or not be transferable, leaving the buyer out of pocket and unable to attend. 
  • Crypto currencies – fraudsters use social media to offer “investments”, promising high returns and using fake endorsements. Crypto currencies are unregulated and invisible; millions have been lost to fraud.
  • Bogus lotteries – fraudsters inform people they have won the lottery – despite the fact they haven’t bought a ticket.  Overseas lotteries seem to be particularly successful, which convince victims to share their personal details by promising huge winnings.
  • Binary options - scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether fake shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the Financial Conduct Authority register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid.
  • Holiday timeshares - scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee.
  • Bogus solicitors - a scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are a part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.
Posted on Thursday 7th June 2018