In the ongoing battle against SCAMS, Citizens Advice Ipswich is out and about in the town during June explaining to people why scams work and what we all need to look out for.
Visits to Ipswich Building Society, Whitton Fun Dog Day (Saturday 9 June), leaflets in our weekly Outreach surgeries and spots on BBC Radio Suffolk and Ipswich Community Radio are all part of our strategy to get the message out to as many people in the town as possible.
Nelleke van Helfteren, Deputy Manager at Citizens Advice Ipswich says: “unfortunately, there is a scam out there for everyone, whoever you are. The important thing is for us all to start to understand better what it is that scammers rely on to design an effective scam. We need to be more clued up on the tricks in a scammer’s playbook.”
Scammers use a range of tools to target the public:
They create a feeling of obligation – often contacting victims under the guise of being a figure of authority such as a doctor or a lawyer. They may also pretend to share a mutual friend or representing a well-known brand or company – “Dave who used to work with you gave me your number and suggested I give you a call….”
Scammers create a sense of urgency as they know we make worse decisions under stress and time pressure. Scammers can convince us that we need to act quickly to encourage victims to make decisions without thinking rationally, without consulting others and controlling our impulses.
Scammers appeal to our emotions – scams are designed to get an emotional response – this can be positive (eg excitement at winning the lottery or a prize) or negative (eg fear and anxiety about ‘fraudulent activity’ on your bank account.
Fraudsters make an art of understanding their target: they have different scams depending on the audience. They know that young people tend to feel immune from scams as they are computer savvy and ‘scams only work on old people’. This is not true. Every 15 seconds someone in the UK gets scammed. People who are well established in life can also feel that they are relatively confident in their ability to identify and protect themselves from scams due to their life experience. This group of people are likely to lose the highest amounts of money – average losses reported last year were around £20,000.
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Ipswich is sharing tips on how to spot them:
- 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
- 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