Stop the scammers’ plea

Third of adults targetted by scammers during pandemic

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd has issued a plea to stop the scammers after research showed a third of adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since the Covid19 crisis. 

Polling conducted on behalf of Citizens Advice Cymru also showed that certain groups were at an increased risk of being contacted by a scammer, often those who could least afford it: 
– Of those with a disability or long-term illness, 45% said they had been targeted – Half (50%) of those at an increased risk of coronavirus or shielding had been contacted – Over half (54%) of those who have lost personal income due to the virus have also been contacted. 

The charity has seen calls from members of the public concerned about bogus testing kits, vaccinations and government refunds. It’s reported a 19% rise in people coming to its website for scam advice. Citizens Advice web pages relating to scams saw an average of 49,000 page views a month since lockdown began in March, compared to an average of 41,000 page views in the three months prior. 

From this research, the majority of people (64%) say they are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And most people (90%) reported they felt wary of scammers taking advantage of the situation. 

Rebecca Woolley, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru, said: “‘Stop, report, talk: Be #scamaware’ is our message to consumers this Christmas period.

“This year protecting people against scams is more important than ever. The coronavirus crisis means more people are facing issues – from employment and debt, to housing and health – resulting in more people being in vulnerable situations. Added to this, the overall heightened uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic is making everyone more vulnerable and more likely to fall victim to a scam.

“People can sometimes feel foolish or embarrassed reporting their experiences, but sadly this means perpetrators are getting away scot-free.“All of us can have the bad luck of being targeted with a scam. We hope this Scams Awareness campaign will encourage people to share their stories and learn tips to stop scammers from running off with people’s money.” 

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales MS, said: “Christmas is usually a time for celebration. However, for some, scams can really ruin the festive season. I’m grateful to Citizens Advice Cymru for highlighting the situation and I’d encourage people not only to be vigilant about scams but also to report it and to warn others. “If you’re unsure about a potential scam, always check. If you’re worried that you or someone you know has become victim to a scam, you can contact Citizens Advice’s consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 (Welsh language).”

1. 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. 

2. The government defines those at ‘increased risk’ from the coronavirus as anyone aged over 70, or those aged under 70 with a chronic underlying health condition, with compromised immune systems, or anyone pregnant, or severely overweight. 

3. 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. 

4. Page view data was taken from the Citizens Advice website on 1 June 2020. Consumer pages focusing on scams on the Citizens Advice website had 55304 views in May this year, 49089 in April, and 45263 in March. This is compared to 39366, 37932, and 46857 in December 2019, January 2020, and February 2020 respectively. Year on year data is not available as Citizens Advice set up a dedicated scams service in July 2019 (see below note) meaning more pages containing scams advice were added to its website. 

5. Citizens Advice set up a dedicated online scams service in July 2019. The service is funded by £3 million donated by Facebook following its settlement with Martin Lewis. The service provides one-on-one help for those worried about online scams. It also undertakes scams prevention work identifying, tackling and raising awareness of online scams in the UK. 

6. 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 10th-23rd 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. 

7. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service. 8. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk 

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