As Scams Awareness Fortnight continues, Nikki Pasek MBE explains how National Trading Standards is empowering people to take a stand against scams.
This is a guest post by Nikki Pasek MBE. All views expressed are Nikki’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
As the National Trading Standards Scams Team sees on a daily basis, criminal scams can cause significant damage to our society.
The people who are targeted are often in the most vulnerable circumstances and the impact on their lives is devastating – from large financial losses, to severe emotional damage which leaves victims feeling intimidated, scared and afraid to be in their home.
The fact that criminals will take advantage of any situation in order to try and scam innocent people saddens me deeply, although it doesn’t surprise me having spent my career in Trading Standards working to protect and support local communities.
The recent increase in scams during COVID-19 serves as a sad reminder about how far these criminals will go. They will truly take any opportunity to prey on vulnerable people, especially those who are socially isolated and living alone.
In contrast, it has been heart-warming to see the community spirit that has been re-invigorated across the UK over the last few months.
People have been helping their family, friends and neighbours as well as making sure that everyone in their community has the support they need.
The power of community spirit and taking time to look out for each other is vital for scam prevention and scam victim support work.
A scam victim cannot always see the impact that a scam is having on their life, so it can be easier for someone close to them to spot it, especially if they’ve been trained to know what signs to look for.
What is Friends Against Scams?
The main aim of the National Trading Standards Scams Team’s Friends Against Scams initiative is simple – to reduce the number of people falling victim to criminal scams.
Our ‘Friends’ training helps people to spot a potential scam, identify people at risk and help protect friends, family and neighbours.
When the team created Friends Against Scams, it was our aim to create a social movement against scams, so an aspirational target was set – to get one million people to take our Friends Against Scams training.
The team knew that if this target could be achieved, it would help to truly bring about the long-term change to scams prevention that was needed to protect the vulnerable people in our communities.
This change would only happen if we could encourage businesses, the public sector, voluntary organisations and local communities to join forces with us to all ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.
It has been amazing to see our partners, local trading standards and other supporters rising to the challenge.
They have helped us to achieve a big step towards our target and the team are thrilled to announce that, during Scams Awareness Fortnight, this combined effort has helped us to get halfway towards our target – 500,000 ‘Friends’ have completed our training.
Continuing the momentum
That’s 500,000 people who now understand the different types of scams, know how to spot the signs and can actively work to protect their family, friends and neighbours.
These ‘Friends’ also know how to proactively help someone if they do fall victim to a scam.
Whilst this is an amazing achievement for everyone involved in the initiative, it is vital that our work continues to move forward.
The rise in scams during this pandemic is a solemn reminder that scams awareness and prevention is just as important as ever.
After reading this article, my hope is that you realise the important role that you can have in helping to protect yourself and others from scams.
Please visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/ and take 20 minutes out of your day to complete our training to protect yourselves and the people that you care about.
Be a good ‘Friend’, help to protect your family, friends and neighbours from scams. Read it, Share it. Prevent it.
This was a guest post by Nikki Pasek MBE. All views expressed were Nikki’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.