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Chartered Trading Standards Institute is taking a stand against scammers

Sign warning of scams

A new campaign by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is calling for community leaders to become scambassadors and stand against scams. CTSI’s Robyn Ellison joins us to explain more…

Scamming has deep roots in popular culture. When we think of scams, many of us think of fictional lovable rogues like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses or Private Walker from Dad’s Army.

Selling Peckham Spring Water or swapping nylons for rations in WWII Walmington-on-Sea is a jolly old caper where nobody gets hurt, but it’s not real life.

Scamming in 2016 is a highly sophisticated, multi-billion pound industry, far more serious and with far greater consequences than these types of antics.

Criminals take aim at UK victims

Modern scams are perpetrated by unscrupulous organised criminal networks, who repeatedly target victims to ensure the highest financial gains.

For many thousands of individuals across the UK – our parents, friends, and neighbours – being ripped off by clairvoyants, bogus lotteries or overpriced catalogue subscriptions has ruined their lives.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is urging community leaders to sign up and become a #scambassador as part of our Stand Against Scams campaign to raise awareness of scams and help the victims.

Tricked by temptation

Take George, just one of the many victims investigated by Trading Standards so far this year, although that’s not his real name. When Trading Standards intervened he was sending over £600 every month to enter bogus prize draws and purchase overpriced vitamin supplements.

In the seven years since George began to be targeted, it is estimated that he lost a staggering £43,200 to scammers.

How could that happen, you might wonder. Admittedly, George’s case is shocking and his loss both financially and emotionally is great, but tragically it isn’t unique. Scam operations purposefully target elderly, isolated individuals, including those suffering with dementia. They build trusted relationships and many victims consider the scammers to be their friends.

Across the UK we have seen George’s story unfold time and again. Life savings lost, houses re-mortgaged, malnourished victims failing to pay bills to supplement the scams. With annual detriment estimated at over £52 billion, this growing problem isn’t going away and more action on scams is needed now.

Stand Against Scams

Just 5% of all scams are reported to the authorities and this needs to change. We’re calling on people to help us Stand Against Scams and raise the profile of this issue in communities up and down the country.

CTSI is building a network of parliamentarians, local councillors and community leaders to act as figureheads for their community, and we’re giving them all the knowledge and advice they need to help residents deal with scams.

More information about the initiative and the Stand Against Scams can be found on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute website. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam, please report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

This is a guest post by Robyn Ellison, policy officer for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. All opinions are Robyn’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I very much support this and other initiatives to tackle the problem of scams.

I would be interested to know what percentage of people are scammed and how this depends on age. I have not been a victim of a scam because I assume the worst if anyone phones, sends an email or knocks on the door.

Member
CTSI press office says:
17 June 2016

Thank you for your positive comments. The average age of a scam victim is 74, but Action Fraud have reported that 53 per cent of people aged 65 or older have been targeted by scammers.

Profile photo of william
Member

A good step, although almost anything would be better than what’s in place. How are you looking to handle online scams. Personally I think you need to get someone high up from facebook involved, it’s not a scammers paradise for nothing and that needs to change. Reports of scams may be low because who do you report things to, Action fraud, Trading Standards, Citizens Advice I’m sure the list could be added to. And who has time or energy to work out the correct place to report things. If I see a scam ad for say raybans I just report to raybans, they have a much higher vested interest in getting something done quickly, FYI just type in 1st time in facbook history into the search bar on facebook and see all the scams competitions. There is one setup yesterday for a range rover.

Member
CTSI press office says:
17 June 2016

Hi William.

We advise scam victims to report to the Citizens Advice Bureau consumer helpline on 03454 040506, they have systems in place to directly refer consumer concerns through to the relevant local trading standards.

Online scams is certainly an area of huge concern to trading standards and our colleagues are working hard to tackle the issue. National Trading Standards have a dedicated eCrime team to investigate online scams and rip-offs of national significance.

Teams of e-crime intelligence specialists, internet investigators and forensic analysts have come together to tackle national online scams and rip-offs, as well as support local and regional trading standards officers with their own e-crime investigations.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Are yes scams, here is one.
thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3641696/Why-Barclays-letting-pushy-salesmen-flog-100-diet-pills-branches-owned-firms-hijack-community-programme.html

Over to you Which? for comment. Bear in mind the Director from Barclays on the Which? Ltd Board might be able to provide a comment.

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

I have a current account with Barclays. Overall I am content with the service that they provide for that facility.

However, I judge some of their other offers to be quite ridiculous – not least savings accounts that pay 0.1%pa interest. Surely a case of “nothing for money” as opposed to the more common dream of “money for nothing”.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I welcome this initiative as I suspect do others. But although I don’t want to pour cold water on the concept, from reading the header I can only see that it appears to be some sort of advice service. We’re being encouraged to report scams and potential scams, but is there any online facility to do this?

If the purpose is to build a database of known scams then that in itself is commendable, assuming some sort of meaningful follow-up takes place. But it’s good to hear that another major organisation is becoming involved.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Pity you can’t report anything to Trading Standards, only through CAB. Perhaps CAB should have launched this service?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

CAB handles calls and directs them appropriately. If it was permitted to contact Trading Standards directly they would be wasting time handling irrelevant calls.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

So would we rather waste an overloaded CAB with irrelevant calls instead. Consumers need dealing with in a positive proactive and helpful way by the public organisations that we pay for. We should not need to be “permitted” to access a public service.

We will always have people who do not seem, to others, have “relevant” requests but it should not be used as a feeble excuse to deny us an essential service. Would we have the abused 999 services also going through CAB?

Consumers who wish to ask about or report problems with products, traders or services should not be put off doing so by going through a third party. The service should be set up to deal with them properly and seriously. Most would do it on the web and this can be suitably organised to help sort and prioritise reported problems. The aim should be to look at, aggregate and then take action on valid complaints. We need a properly funded and resourced Trading Standards to protect the interests of consumers – that is their job – at both local level and at national level. We should also have a government department whose prime role is to protect consumers.

I have just had to route an enquiry through CAB that requires an answer from Trading Standards. The reply I received, although well-meaning, ignored my actual questions so I now have to spend time trying to get a reply to my initial request.

It is high time consumers’ interests were one of our priorities. Consumers are on the whole intelligent and sincere people who do not spend their time making “irrelevant” enquiries.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

And malcolms post is one of the most logical,reasonable ,constructive post I have seen . Its practical and down to earth.

Member
CTSI press office says:
17 June 2016

Hi Ian

We advise that scams are reported to the Citizens Advice Bureau consumer helpline on 03454 040506. The cases are then referred on to the relevant trading standards service. The Citizens Advice do log this information onto a database and complaint trends can be generated.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Major organisation might be overstating it a bit as we know that hundreds of its likely members have disappeared over the last few years. Perhaps Robyn can quote the membership numbers.
“The Chartered Trading Standards Institute is a private company which supplies membership services and training for trading standards professionals; it does not handle consumer complaints.”

The link from the site to CA is useful:
citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/scams-awareness-month/scams-awareness-month/
and from there , having looked at what is being offered , I recommend
thinkjessica.com/

thinkjessica being a one cause charity has the drive and focus to make a difference. Diffused generalist organisations by their very output waterdown the effectiveness of the message. I think Which? should support it. Perhaps a supplement for all the readers of the magazines.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

I am sorry , unlike most of the positive posts I look on past experience and to me this is just another “intermediary ” or semi-blocking of the British public,s power over the adversity and tears and sorrow of the evil cold calling BB system now in place of getting as much of your money for their own profit . As I said elsewhere there are 1000,s of web businesses which TEACH you how to cold call ,how to install software to overcome normal calling systems and how to rip off the public . That crooks are doing it isnt the point its BB related and the crooks are just using the system set up by /financed by, run by, BB because cameron and previous administrations want an “open ” BB approach-IE- unbridled capitalism . Just the same as Windows has open back doors that allow hackers to do what MS does —control your computer so scammers are using the telephone network BB system to make money , thats why you will never see this government REALLY stop all sales calls , the US would not allow it. All you get are quangos,s or pseudo quangos to “calm ” public fear . BB constantly hold meetings to discuss ways of selling to the public that get round local laws (country by country ) . Ask me in a years time if this “initiative ” achieves anything of a long lasting benefit to the public.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Well, I have to concede the accuracy of what’s been said regarding the clandestine approach of Trading Standards at the moment which makes them all but impossible to contact directly. Placing a hurdle in front of those wishing to complain about a company might seem a practical triage solution, but it simply separates those who have legitimate grievances from those responsible.

I’ve only once had to contact them directly about a rogue company – and it was rogue – and it was so difficult that even the Which? legal team told me to claim against Paypal or the credit card issuer, since Trading standards were effectively in hiding. The major problem there is that it got me my money back but did nothing for those being scammed by the cowboys in the future.

Member
bishbut says:
18 June 2016

There are people who will always fall a scam. The elderly,the vulnerable and the ignorant ,the first two are the first priority if you know someone or some relatives you think might not be aware of things scammers do interfere,they might not like you interfering but you will be doing them good. . The ignorant you must inform and inform until it maybe gets through to them. Even then some will always fall for a scam