It’s good to talk – don’t fall victim to a scam or con artist

Nottingham residents are being urged to talk to friends and family if they suspect being targeted by con artists.

The advice from Nottingham City Council Trading Standards Service comes as part of national campaign Scams Awareness Fortnight, which is led by Citizens Advice.

Research from Citizens Advice found that 68 per cent of people targeted by a scam do not tell anyone about it, including friends, family or the organisation being impersonated, as well as the relevant authorities.

It’s important to remember that anyone can fall victim to a scam, no matter their age or background, and that by discussing them it is possible to reduce stigma and protect others.

In the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of financial-services scams, as fraudsters exploit pressures that the Covid pandemic is putting people under.

These include fake ‘Get Rich Quick’ investment schemes, which are often promoted on social media with promises of big returns. Other financial scams include phone calls, texts or emails pretending to be from a bank, the Government or other organisations, and offers of pension reviews that come out of the blue.

Recent examples of scams seen by Nottingham Trading Standards include:

  • A consumer who posted a debit card and bank statement in the post, following a call from a scammer purporting to be from their bank’s fraud department. £5,400 was taken from the account.
  • A resident who reported receiving more than ten scam calls a day, including those claiming to be from Amazon and Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • A cryptocurrency (online payment) investment scheme that failed to return a consumer’s £250 initial payment, after they realised it could be a scam and tried to withdraw.

When making financial decisions, there are some things people can do to minimise the risk of being scammed:

  • Don’t give money or bank details to anyone you don’t know or have only met online. Be wary of unexpected contact.
  • Be cautious of investment opportunities, particularly if they seem too good to be true. Seek professional advice before making any decisions.
  • Research whoever you’re dealing with. Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam:
    • Check the FCA’s Financial Services Register at https://register.fca.org.uk to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered.
    • Be extra careful if the contact is overseas. If you can’t check the firm is authorised with a regulator in that country, don’t transfer any money.

Reporting a scam helps authorities to stop the criminals responsible and protects others from falling victim. Forward scam text messages to 7726, and emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. If a person sees an advert or is messaged through social media, it’s important remember to report the profile to the platform.

In the case of a financial scam, people should contact their bank in-branch or on the number on the back of their card, plus Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud, through https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ as soon as possible.

Nottingham Trading Standards officers will be on hand to answer questions about scams tomorrow (Friday) at Clifton Market between 10am and noon.

They will also have resources available to help residents spot scams, as well as start a conversation with friends and family who may be at risk.

Councillor Neghat Khan, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Safety and Inclusion at Nottingham City Council, said: “Our officers support many people every year who have unfortunately fallen victim to scams, as well as trying to promote wider safety messages to the public.

“The aim is to stop people becoming victims in the first place, but we will also be there to help if someone has been affected. The key thing is for people to talk to others if they think someone is trying to con them.

“What makes this such a distressing crime is that elderly and vulnerable people are deliberately targeted because scammers know they have a greater chance of success. During the uncertainty and anxiety of a global pandemic, this behaviour is even more despicable.

“We hear stories about victims in Nottingham who have been tricked out of very substantial sums of money – sometimes life savings. It is a constant battle but we will continue to stand up for these people and protect them in any way we can.”     

For further advice, visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/ or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133. Complete an online awareness session at https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/.

Nottingham City Council Trading Standards are on Facebook and you can follow them on Twitter through @NottmCityTS.

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