Scam Awareness Fortnight 15-28 June 2020

Citizens Advice Isle of Wight and IW Trading Standards are joining forces with IWASP partners to release 10 days of Scams from 15 to 28 June as part of a Citizens Advice annual campaign to raise awareness of scams

Paul Savill CEO of Citizens Advice IW said

“It’s very easy to fall prey to scammers. They used to target the elderly but now they are becoming more sophisticated and targeting younger victims. The aim of Scams Fortnight is to make people more aware of scams, how to avoid them and what to do if they think they have been scammed. Our theme this year focusses on Covid 19 related scams.”

The National Statistics Office recently released figures that show an increasing number of people under the age of 55 are becoming prey. Known as the ‘life established’ this proportion of the population are less likely to report a scam, feeling embarrassed to have been fooled.

Now Citizens Advice and IW Trading Standards are working together with other members of IWASP (IW Against Scams Partnership) to help islanders become aware of the different scams that are currently operating and advise how to get help should someone find themselves scammed.

Sally Ash, IW Trading Standards said:

“We have seen a surge of Covid-19 related scams, including texts that tell you

  • To claim a Coronavirus payment by clicking on a link
  • That you have been recorded leaving your property 3 times in one day and fined – click on the link to pay it.
  • That you have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive and telling you to click on a link – this is particularly worrying as over 52,000 Islanders are currently trialling the NHS Covid-19 App so may think that this is a genuine message. Recently we have reports of telephone calls saying the same and offering a test for £500. Please do not give your personal bank details. Tests requested via the App are in fact free.

Residents are also reporting unsolicited phone calls offering to sell face masks for £29.00. These are SCAMS. These criminals are preying on all of our vulnerabilities at the minute and trying to scare us into parting with cash or bank details.

One to really watch out for at the minute is the Amazon Prime telephone scam – we have had reports over the past couple of months from residents who have lost money to this sophisticated and believable scam. Remember Amazon will NEVER contact you like this.”

Citizens Advice’s Friends Against Scams Champion, Ian Johnston, has set up an IW Scams Awareness page on Facebook, which gives details of the latest scams. He said

“It’s important to report the scam to someone if you become a victim. The law enforcement services can only take action if they know about the scam. Don’t be embarrassed, no one will judge you. It’s also important to report it even if you don’t become a victim. This will stop others being scammed.”

Ian, a former IT consultant, has made it his mission to make people aware of social media scams which are proliferating on Facebook. Known as phishing scams, they usually feature a prize but there is no prize, and the idea is solely to collect the user’s data. More recently scams involve something like a free gift – a free Cadbury chocolate basket but in order to get the basket you have to input your personal details.

Businesses too can be victims of scams and Trading Standards warn that this will increase with employees working from home. The Businesses Against Scams website gives advice and information on how businesses can protect themselves. BAS is a Friends Against Scams initiative which was set up by National Trading Standards.

Local businesses are also joining in the Scams Raise Awareness Campaign. John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre said

“WightFibre are delighted to be active members of IWASP, because we care. We help WightFibre customers to avoid scams through our WightFibre support line 01982 242424. If in doubt our customers are welcome to call us and ask for Digi-Dan who is available to support our more vulnerable customers with additional advice and guidance”.