Helping hand for mass marketing scam victims
Up to £10billion a year is lost in scams and we are helping the most vulnerable in Notts to avoid becoming a victim. Local people can help, too.
We have all come back from holiday and have been greeted by a pile of junk mail offering dubious prize draws or lottery entries on our doormats. Equally, it doesn’t take long for our ‘junk’ email inboxes to be full of spam messages from people claiming to be in danger and needing money, or purporting to be from a well-known bank asking for personal details. Most of us can see through these scams, but more vulnerable people such as older residents are more trusting and are new to the world of emails.
Nationally, mass marketing scams are estimated to create financial losses totalling £5 to £10 billion a year with the average victim being 75 years old.
So what is a mass marketing scam? They tend to offer false promises of large cash prizes, goods or services in exchange for upfront fees and they come in many guises, including people knocking your door, letters, telephone calls or emails.
The County Council currently has two Trading Standards officers dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable victims. Since last October they have worked with victims who have lost a total of £800,000 and one particular victim lost her £160,000 house over a telephone scam. The impact goes beyond money lost as the stress can harm a victim’s health, wellbeing and independence, which leads to more support from social care and health professionals.
Unfortunately, once a victim has fallen for one scam it’s common that they are then bombarded with mail, calls and emails enticing them into another scam. From next month we are due to receive details of 800 local victims who have been targeted in this way and we will be looking to give them advice on how to spot a scam.
We can all play a part in supporting vulnerable people in our communities by becoming a ‘Nominated Neighbour’ to help vet unexpected doorstep callers. It’s really simple to sign up to this Council scheme (call 0345 404 0506) and we give advice on how you can support your neighbour with different kinds of callers and how you can report any incidents.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, Vice-Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee