Grahame Morris MP at a Citizens Advice event in Parliament in March
Grahame Morris MP at a Citizens Advice event in Parliament in March

Grahame Morris MP has expressed his support for Scams Awareness Fortnight 2020.

The Easington MP said, “Unfortunately, scammers are seeking to take advantage of the anxiety and vulnerability that has arisen as a result of the pandemic. It is more important than ever that people know what to look out for, and how to report a scam. Scams Awareness Fortnight is a great opportunity to equip people with the knowledge and the skills that they need.”

Taking place from 15-28 June, the annual campaign is co-ordinated by Citizens Advice, and is dedicated to creating a network of scam-aware consumers who are able to recognise a scam, report it to the appropriate agency, and talk about their experiences to help raise public awareness of scams.

Scams Awareness Fortnight 2020 will focus on raising awareness of Covid-19 related scams. Data from Citizens Advice shows that some pandemic-related scams include:

  • Adverts of face masks or medical equipment at high prices
  • Emails or texts pretending to be from the government
  • Emails offering life insurance against coronavirus
  • People knocking on doors and asking for money for fake charities

Research carried out by Citizens Advice also found that:

  • A third of adults in the North of England (33%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began.
  • Across the country, it is often the most vulnerable who are targeted. For example half (50%) of those at an “increased risk of coronavirus” had been contacted by scammers.
  • The majority of people (64%) say they are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con.

The campaign aims to:

  1. Equip consumers with the skills needed to recognise scams
    As scams are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated, Citizens Advice are working to arm people with the knowledge they need to recognise scams, and if they think they are being targeted to stop and seek advice on what to do next.
  2. Empower people to take action and report scams using the appropriate channels
    If someone thinks they’ve been scammed, there are steps they can take to protect themselves from things getting worse. If they take action immediately, they might even be able to recover some of the money they lost. Data shows that as few as 1 in 7 fraud incidents are reported by the victim, either to the police or Action Fraud. While there is a recognition that police resources are stretched, the National Crime Agency have recently announced that they are prioritising and reviewing fraud reports to Action Fraud. The more people that report scams to them, the stronger action they can take.
  3. Encourage people to talk about their experiences and help others
    Those impacted by scams often still feel a sense of shame about falling victim to them. This stigma can contribute to under-reporting, and stifles conversations around protecting yourself and others. Removing the stigma around scams and encourage people to talk about their experiences and work together to stop scams.

There is help and information about how to spot a scam, and what to do if you think you or someone you know may have fallen victim to one, on the Citizens Advice website:

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