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Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lorne Green, has lent his support to a national campaign working to stop people falling victim to scams.
By becoming a Friends Against Scams ‘Scambassador’, the Commissioner has pledged to use his position to raise awareness of the dangers posed by fraudsters and help prevent vulnerable people being targeted and exploited.
Friends Against Scams is an initiative set up by National Trading Standards (NTS). The NTS Scams Team initially identified 106,000 potential victims being targeted through so-called ‘suckers lists’ nationally. Further investigations have now placed that figure at 750,000 with many more anticipated.
Data from the #Scambassador network shows that older people are more susceptible to scams with the average age of victims being 75. On average victims are conned out of £1,000, but the Scams Team reports that some victims have had to re-mortgage, sell their homes or take out loans to cover the debt induced by scammers.
Speaking during Fraud Awareness Week (11-17 November) about his new role, PCC Lorne Green said: “It’s a privilege to take on the Scambassador role. I’ve heard first-hand from residents across Norfolk who have themselves fallen prey to despicable fraudsters, or who have witnessed the financial and emotional hurt family members have experienced.
“It’s absolutely necessary that, as a county, we are raising awareness of what scams are, encouraging people to report and, where possible, protecting potential victims.
“Most often it’s the vulnerable in our society who are targeted and exploited by scammers, but anyone can be a victim. What is particularly concerning is that only 5% of scam victims report their victimisation – often because they are too embarrassed. Scams are fraud and fraud is a crime. We need to spread the message that victims are not alone and reporting is paramount to helping authorities to identify offenders and prevent further victimisation.
“I am committed to doing all I can to help make Norfolk a scam-free county.”
According to Norfolk Trading Standards, scams currently doing the rounds in Norfolk include ‘winning notification’ letters claiming to be from the People’s Postcode Lottery, telephone cold calls claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Management Service, and ‘claim your refund’ text messages claiming to be the DVLA. Norfolk Police also issued a warning recently following a number of calls from members of the public about cold calls from scammers claiming to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
As well as joining the national network of Scambassadors, the PCC is also working with the Norfolk Against Scams Partnership set up by Norfolk Trading Standards as part of the Friends Against Scams initiative.
How we can take a stand against scams
- Get scams savvy – Knowledge is power so educate yourself on the types of scams affecting people in your area. Norfolk Trading Standards publishes details of recent scams on its Facebook/Twitter accounts and webpages, where you can also sign up for scam alerts by email.
- Listen to your gut instinct – Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s better to be suspicious and safe, than trusting and taken for a ride. Remember:
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you’ve not entered a competition or lottery, you can’t have won a prize.
- Never respond to unexpected communications or disclose your security details.
- Don’t buy goods or services from telephone or doorstep cold callers.
- Report it! – Anyone can be a scam victim; you are not alone and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your report could make all the difference to the authorities working to identify offenders and stop what has happened to you happening to someone else. If you receive a call, email, letter, text message or face-to-face visit that you believe to be a scam, report that too. You can report scams to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06, or to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Both agencies also have an online reporting form – details of which can be found on the Norfolk Trading Standards webpages – norfolk.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/scams