Scams soaring in Scotland as new campaign is launched

Citizens Advice Scotland is today launching a Scams Awareness campaign with new figures showing the scale of the problem in Scotland.

Almost half of people in the country say they have been targeted by scams at least once in the last year.

Of these, almost one in three was targeted more than three times.

The figures, based on a survey by YouGov, are published alongside a Scams Awareness Campaign 2019.

The campaign runs for the next two weeks and aims to tackle stigma among Scots about reporting scams, urging them to STOP, REPORT, and TALK about them.

In 2018/19 the Scottish CAB network gave out 1038 pieces of advice about scams. This is an increase of 86 per cent from 2017/18.

In terms of reporting of scams, the network saw a 113 per cent increase from 2017/18 to 2018/19

The most common methods of scam identified in the Yougov survey were email (38%), telephone (42%) and online (10%). The most common types of scam were computer and internet repairs (39%), personal injury scams (38%), fake tax refunds and online transaction scams (32%).

A second survey, also conducted by YouGov, produced interesting findings about the issue of stigma and blame.

Most Scots (71%) believe those hit by scams should not be embarrassed about it, and 82% say the main reason for scams is that scammers are clever in the way they present themselves.

Stigma can stifle conversations around protection against scammers and whilst the public believe scams victims shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed; there is still a huge issue with under-reporting of scams to advice services.

Launching the campaign, Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Derek Mitchell, said: “Let’s get one thing clear. A scam is a crime. It is fraud. In other words, it is theft. Whether they managed to take money from you or not, the person who scammed you is guilty of a crime, and they need to be reported to the police so they can be stopped.

“I have a message for scammers; We are on to you. We are tracking your methods and finding more and more ways to beat you. In this campaign we are joined by Trading Standards, Police Scotland, Young Scot, Age Scotland and others.But the biggest allies in the fight against scams are the people of Scotland. When we come across a scam, regardless of whether it impacts upon us, we need to stop, report it and talk about it to our friends and family.

“Scammers depend on us staying silent. The more we talk about them, the more aware people become, and the harder they will find it to scam the next person. The Citizens Advice network in Scotland helps and advocates for hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland every year.

“So that’s why the theme of our campaign this year is STOP, REPORT, TALK. And that’s my message to people across Scotland. If we work together we can beat the scammers. It’s time to do that. You can get information on how to spot scams from our website Citizens Advice Scotland or from your local CAB.”