More than one-in-three people (36%) in the South West have been the target of a scam since lockdown came into effect across the country, according to new research by Citizens Advice Cornwall.
Over half of people (58%) are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And the large majority of people (88%) reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams.
Citizens Advice Cornwall and Trading Standards are encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk.
Citizens Advice Cornwall Chief Executive, Gill Pipkin, said:
“Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across the region. And despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns.
“One-in-three local people have been targeted by a scam since lockdown began, showing we all need to be on high alert.
“It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.“
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Cornwall and Trading Standards are sharing the following tips on how to spot them:
- Look into installing a call blocker to help combat telephone scams
- Talk to your bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity or transactions from their account or credit cards
- Report the scam to Citizens Advice who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards
- Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
- If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts Citizens Advice may be able to help.
You can also take the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.
- Citizens Advice commissioned Opinium Research to carry out a survey of 2,009 18+ UK adults between 13th and 19th May 2020. Fieldwork was carried out online. Data is weighted to be representative of the population.
- Citizens Advice commissioned Populus Data Solutions who conducted fieldwork of an online sample of 2022 18+ GB adults on 28th May 2020. Data is weighted to be representative of the population of Great Britain.
- “Increased risk of coronavirus” is a government defined term relating to anyone at a higher risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. This includes, amongst others, pregnant people, elderly people, and those with pre-existing conditions.
- Scams Awareness is an annual campaign which aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they see a scam. This year’s campaign will take place over two weeks, from the 15th – 28th June. The campaign includes a range of organisations across the Consumer Protection Partnership, including Trading Standards, the Department for Business Energy and Infrastructure, and Citizens Advice Scotland.