Beat the Scammers

Moray Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has set out this week in a big effort to make local people aware of the dangers of scams, and how to beat them.

The campaign is the part of  a national Scams Awareness Month, being run across Scotland by the Citizens Advice service and Trading Standards Scotland. It is aimed at everyone and covers all types of scams.

As part of the campaign, the local CAB has already held an information stall on Tuesday at Asda, and  will be holding additional information stalls on: Monday 11 June at Elgin Tesco (12 to 2 pm) and Thursday 21 June at St Giles Centre (11am to 1 pm).

Mary Riley, Manager of Moray CAB, says, “This is one of the most important campaigns we run every year. Scams are very common, and can affect absolutely anyone. And they can cost people hundreds or even thousands of pounds. It’s heart-breaking to see local people conned out of their money – especially when scams can so often be avoided.

“Scams aren’t just a minor inconvenience to people. Aside from the financial loss, they can also cause distress and loss of confidence. Citizens Advice research has found that 7 out of 10 people targeted by a scam do not tell anyone about it, so it is clear that stigma is one of the biggest barriers to stopping scammers. The good news is that we’ve seen a 24% increase over the last year in people reporting scams to the CAB network, but we need to keep that going and encourage people to talk even more about scams.

“So our message to the people of Moray is that we all need to be constantly vigilant and watch out for scams, and there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from them. But we also want people to know that help is available, and that if you are affected by a scam you should talk about it to your friends and family, and report it to us or to Trading Standards or the police so we can try and warn other people about it.

Most popular types of scams (according to recent research commissioned by Citizens Advice Scotland) include:

  • computer repair scams
  • online transaction
  • personal injury
  • fake tax refunds
  • banking security
  • fake lottery/prize draws

Top tips to avoid scams:

  • Research the trader – Don’t rush into buying an item as soon as you spot a good deal. Take some time to do some research on the company or trader first by checking they are protected by a trade body or they have registered address. Make sure the company is on the Financial Conduct Authority’s register of approved businesses.
  • Look for the padlock – When buying online, look out for the padlock sign in the URL bar (the bar displaying the web address of the page you are visiting)  on the payment page, so you know the website is secure. The web address should also start with ‘https://’ and part of the wording may turn green too.
  • Don’t pay by bank transfer – Always use a credit card, debit card or PayPal to pay for items bought online and never pay by bank transfer. Bank transfers can be difficult to trace meaning you are very unlikely to get your money back.
  • Get advice. Remember that the CAB service is here to help you. If in doubt, check our Scams Awareness Month website www.cas.org.uk or call our consumer helpline 03454 04 05 06.