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Figures show more and more Scots being ripped off by scams

29 May 2014

The number of Scots falling victim to financial rip-offs is increasing dramatically, according to new figures published Thursday 29th May by Citizens Advice Scotland.

A special helpline set up by CAS to deal solely with consumer issues saw a 14% increase last year in calls about scams - with ‘love scams’ (on dating websites) being one of the fastest growing problems. 

The helpline, which takes calls on all kinds of consumer issues, is now recording 30 calls a week about scams in Scotland. 

Citizens Advice Scotland’s Head of Policy Susan McPhee says, 

“It’s very sad that there are so many people out there who are keen to exploit peoples’ trust and relieve us of our hard-earned money through deceit and trickery.  But the good news is that Scots seem to be fighting back more.

“Our figures today suggest that scams are on the increase in Scotland, but also that people are getting better at reporting them. So we have two messages to people today: we are here to help anyone in Scotland who has been ripped off by a scam, but also people should come forward and tell us about scams you have come across. 

“Our consumer helpline is 03454 04 05 06, or of course you can also come into any local CAB. Our advice is free, independent and confidential. Even if you haven’t actually been the victim of a scam yourself, you should still report any you know about, so that we can help protect people from it and maybe bring the perpetrators to justice. 

“Because scams are crimes. If someone took money out of your pocket you would report it to the police. An online or doorstep scam is no different. We need to work together to raise awareness of fraud and stamp it out.  Every one of us has a role to play in that. And today we list a number of things you can do to join the fight against scams.” (see below). 

Today’s CAS report, ‘Scammed and Dangerous,’ comes at the end of Scams Awareness Month, in which CABs across Scotland have been working with other consumer agencies like Trading Standards to help people fight back against rip-offs, and spot them before they happen.

The report’s findings include:

  • 30 Scots report a scam to the CAS consumer phoneline every working week.
  • In the last year the number of scams reported to this helpline was up by 14% (from 1,429 the previous year, to 1,631).
  • We have these statistics broken down by local authority, and there are some wide discrepancies: Perth and Kinross seems to be the ‘scam capital of Scotland’, with the percentage of calls from there being double the national average. The area with the lowest number of scam calls is Inverclyde. (see table below).
  • Scammers often share info on vulnerable people. Between 10 and 20% of the population are thought to be at risk of being on this ‘suckers list’.
  • The two fastest-growing types of scam over the last year, judging by calls to out helpline, are ‘love scams’ (e.g. on dating websites) and fake government scams (bogus websites claiming to be the government).
  • 64% of all emails sent is spam, and 1 in every 350 emails contains a virus.
  • Contrary to the common belief that older people are the most likely to be duped, the age group most vulnerable to becoming repeat victims are 31 to 40 year olds.

5 Simple Rules to Avoid Scams

The Scottish CAB service is working with Police Scotland and Trading Standards to help people fight back against scams and fraud. We recommend that all people keep in mind these 5 Simple Rules:

  1. Be sceptical about offers that seem ‘too good to be true’.
  2. Take your time and don’t be harassed into making quick decisions.
  3. Always make sure you know who you’re dealing with. If you are unsure, check.
  4. Protect your financial information and do not give it out unless you are 100% sure you know who you are dealing with.
  5. If you are victim of a scam, REPORT IT!

 Our Scammed & Dangerous report is attached, and is also available at www.cas.org.uk/publications/scammed-and-dangerous

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