/ Scams

Get involved in the Friends Against Scams ‘FASathon’ 2020

The National Trading Standards Scams Team is today launching its ‘FASathon’ 2020. Our guest, Louise Baxter MBE, explains how you can get involved.

This is a guest post by Louise Baxter MBE. All views expressed are Louise’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

The Friends Against Scams (FAS) initiative was luanched four years ago to help protect and prevent people from falling victims to scams. 

FAS raises awareness of the problem and provides information on how to spot a scam and the signs that someone may have fallen victim.

See all the scams covered here on Which? Conversation

It isn’t just about providing information, it also builds community resilience, encourages conversations about scams and helps to break the stigma that surrounds this type of crime. The Team wants people to talk about scams and FAS provides the platform.

The impact of falling victim to a scam

The scale of the problem is enormous. Most people will have received a scam letter, call or email at some point and ignored or deleted it. However, the fear of being scammed and the impact of actually responding to a scam is often completely underestimated.  

The criminals behind scams are experts at what they do. Anyone can be a scam victim and we will all experience periods of vulnerability that could make us more susceptible to responding.

The effects of responding can be devastating and not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well.

That’s why the FAS initiative is so important. 97% of people who have completed the awareness session think that they are less likely to fall victim to a scam and 98% have the knowledge to identify a scam victim.

FAS is more than just educating people about scams. FAS aims to empower people to know what a scam looks like and when the criminals may be targeting loved ones.

We encourage people to take their new knowledge and turn it onto action, spreading the word, taking away the shame and making scams an everyday conversation.

FASathon 2020

More than 600,000 people have already become Friends Against Scams, but we need your help to share the messages with as many people as possible!

Today, the team is running a FASathon – a Friends Against Scams marathon! The aim of the FASathon is to get as many people as possible to complete the awareness session in one day. 

Anyone can become a Friend Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.

We hope you can join the FASathon at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk and help to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.

Have you taken part? Let us know in the comments.

This was a guest post by Louise Baxter MBE. All views expressed were Louise’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Comments

I watched the video and completed the awareness session. I was a little disappointed that it was rather general and did not run through specific scams.

This is the second time I have been made aware of this initiative by Which? since it was launched 4 years ago. I do wonder just how many people know of it. 600 000 friends sounds a lot but these may well be people who are already interested in scams to some degree. It only represents around 1% of the adult population.

How do we get to the rest? Most scams involve money transfer from bank accounts. I’d suggest the banking regulator prepares an instructional booklet on how account holders should behave and warn them of scams, frauds, ways to avoid losing their money and require all banks to deliver it to their customers.

Perhaps these should be part of the bank’s terms and conditions that the customer signs up to for an account to be opened or continued.

Hi Louise – I’ve just had a scam call from an organisation representing the Office of Fair Trading and National Trading Standards, saying that I was entitled to a refund of several hundred pounds. I asked what the caller knew about NTS and the question was evaded. I pointed out that the OFT no longer exists and the caller asked if I did not want to reclaim the money. I hope that NTS is aware of this scam. It’s only the second time I have had this call.

Thank you for for the Friends Against Scams awareness video. It made me realise that no-one has ever told me that they have been a victim of a scam, either face to face or on the phone.

I will do, Louise. Unfortunately my phone did not show a number – something which alerts me to possible scams.

A ‘Private and Confidential’ window envelope letter was sent to my address about a week ago with the name of someone I had never heard of on it. I actually got around to posting it in a local Royal Mail letter box yesterday with ‘Return to Sender’ – Not Known At This Address’ clearly written at the top.

This afternoon, I was visited by an official looking gentleman who produced ID and was looking for the addressee of the letter. I told him to kindly step back as he was not wearing any face protection and I was on the government high risk register. He said he was from the High Court and refused to go away until I produced a council tax letter as proof of ownership. Someone has evidently used my address and disappeared without trace.

Some people will go to any lengths to involve innocent people to avoid taking responsibility for their misdeeds.

Beryl – I suppose he was a High Court Enforcement Officer empowered by the Court to recover a debt. They used to be called High Court Sheriffs. They are like bailiffs who execute County Court warrants to enforce the payment of fines but they have additional powers and therefore a greater sense of self-importance. It seems to me to be wrong that you had to demonstrate that you were the legitimate occupier rather than the officer having to prove that you weren’t. These people are paid by results which explains their greater application of determination and perseverance.

If an enforcement officer called at our house and demanded proof of ownership they would have to spend some time on the doorstep while I looked for the council tax bill since the payments are collected by direct debit and I don’t necessarily keep a paper bill in an orderly system for any length of time. I suppose they would also want a document that proves I am the person named on the bill where my out-of-date passport might have to suffice or failing that my concessionary bus travel pass.

If an enforcement officer sets about seizing property to fund a debt in a shared house, for example, they appear to have the ability to remove anything unless you can prove your ownership if you are not the debtor. They cannot, however, gain entry forcibly. I assume what the tv told me is correct.

That must have been rather disturbing Beryl.

As this sounds totally unexpected, I would want confirmation that it really was a High Court representative who knocked on the door. I don’t like unsolved mysteries especially if they involved money and strangers knocking on the door. Any ID shown at the door could be fake and the majority of people would not know what a genuine one looked like anyway.

Do you remember I had something similar and very weird that started with Anglian Water?
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby-2/#comment-1596853
(On page 185 of Lobby 2)
After I contacted Anglian Water and ebay, it turned out to be a genuine mistake, my mind was put at rest and I heard no more from them or Transcom.

editing . . . The above link doesn’t work.
@jon-stricklin-coutinho
It takes me to the very last page of lobby 2 and I get a message:
Ajax failed with status = error error = Internal Server
Error

Thanks for the flag @alfa – already something we’re working on. The link technically does function, the page…less so!

There is a House of Commons Library Briefing on Bailiffs, see:-http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN04103/SN04103.pdf

That summaries the law around bailiffs.

Hi Beryl – I’m sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience. At least the coronavirus problem provides a good reason for not letting anyone into your home. Was there a scam involved or was the person named on the envelope involved in some other illegal activity?

Thanks everyone for the advice. Yes alfa I do remember your Anglian Water experience and glad to hear it all worked out for you in the end.

The letter I received was addressed to someone with a name very similar to a famous radio/tv personality with a somewhat chequered history Wavechange, which first aroused my suspicions. It was red stamped with a phone number to call if the addressee was no longer living at my address, which I ignored as he had never lived here and so I was reluctant to become involved.

It is apparently unlawful to open a letter addressed to someone else at your address and as it was marked Private and Confidential I didn’t open it.

There are quite a few helpful websites online warning people not to open their doors to cold callers as there has been quite a spate since post lockdown, as the following link advises: http://www.northyorkshire.gov.uk – Be Alert to Cold Callers as Lockdown Restrictions Ease.

Thanks Beryl. I hope you hear no more. Your link did not work for me, but hopefully this one will: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/news/article/be-alert-cold-callers-lockdown-restrictions-ease

Thanks Wavechange, You are probably already aware I operate mostly from an iPad which never seems to display the full website address, as does the laptop which I don’t have a very good relationship with 🙁

Just tap the website address on the screen it should show the full version, or as much as will fit in the window.

There are some people who will use a false name and address when giving DVLA details of the new registered keeper of a car etc. That way, they might hope to avoid getting forced to pay any resulting parking tickets etc. There’s one block of 16 flats that I have close connections with, where there have been attempts at enforcement at that building (including intention to seize goods) regarding several individuals during the last few years – people who have NOT been associated with that block:

[edited]

I really think that DVLA (and Companies House) should make some effort to validate the addresses they are supplied with – I mean simply validate, not verify! e.g.
* Check address against postcode [edited]
* If the postcode checking shows a block of flats, check that a valid flat number is mentioned.

I have also seen (nearby) a one-bedroom flat with four adult males on the public version of the Register of Electors – all of them fictitious; this was in order to commit financial fraud by having this as “proof” of the name and address.

Note: I don’t believe that the Data Protection legislation was intended to apply to such false or fictitious identities. According to https://gdpr.eu/eu-gdpr-personal-data/
” If data are inaccurate to the point that no individual can be identified, then the information is not personal data”, and it gives an example.

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personally identifiable information, as this is not allowed in the Community guidelines. Please don’t post people’s names, addresses, or other personally identifiable information – even if you suspect it is made up. This is to protect everyone’s privacy.]

Caren Pickering says:
23 October 2020

I have not read all the comments, but I thought I would just share an amusing incident. I am rather paranoid about scam calls, so when a caller claimed (rather hesitantly) to be from EON, I replied “I think not” and hung up. I told my husband, who replied “Damn! I was expecrting a call from them.”
Oh well, you can’t win them all! (But a little communication might have helped?)

Caren – Are sure you didn’t mistake EON for IAN 🙂

Rosalind Wright says:
23 October 2020

If only Trading Standards took action when frauds (scams make them sound fun, which they certainly aren’t) are reported to them. Rogue traders ae on the increase and especially now with COVID-19 rampant, there will be many more. Trading Standards have investigatory and prosecuting powers: USE THEM!

I would say to people, don’t bother getting involved

The people at Which don’t care about fighting scams. I emailed them last year asking them to start an investigation into one. I would have provided the evidence and paid for the investigation. I never received a reply

Don’t bother using Action Fraud either. I’ve been waiting more than a year for Action Fraud to start an investigation into a company that missold me something for £3000

It’s already been said in the Times newspaper that Action Fraud isn’t there to investigate or pass on reports to police. It doesn’t do anything to help us or stop scams

Hi, I can assure you we absolutely care about fighting scams – we’ve published hundreds of warning articles here on Which? Conversation that you can find here:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/tag/scams/

And recently launched a scam alert service:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/scam-alert-service-email-announcement/

We do receive thousands of emails alerting us to new scams and understandably can’t cover them all – do you know where you sent your investigation?

I used the Contact Us form on your website

Why are you trying to use Trading Standards to shut down scams when it should be the police? Trading Standards only has the power to shut down a company, it still leaves the scammers free to do other things

If you’d like to send it on to scamwatch@which.co.uk the team may be able to take a closer look, or provide some feedback.

Which? isn’t trying to use anyone here – the purpose of the guest article from Friends Against Scams/NTS is to help spread awareness to others who may be vulnerable and at higher risk of being scammed. The more people we can help warn the less likely the fraudsters are to be successful, so we’re happy to give Friends Against Scams/NTS a further platform to help spread that message.

My wife became totally paranoid about scam calls after taking a call, supposedly collecting information for advertisers, after which our call rate went through the roof. We have, to some extent, overcome this by never answering the phone unless it shows it is from a person/company on our list of contacts. We now have an answerphone recording which says, “We do not respond to cold calls, others may leave a message after the tone and we will get back to you” It works well and our non-answered calls are gradually reducing although still around a dozen a week. We find it interesting to discover where the calls originate, using the area codes, and it improves our British geography hugely.

Hesham says:
25 October 2020

Last week I rec’d 3 small parcels from Amazon on 3 different date it has my correct name n address,I have no account with Amazon ,I never ordered anythings from them n very rarely I I use online shopping,tried to call Amazon customer services help line,requesting to know who ordered those parcel on my behalf.but Amazon customer service help were nothing but help,called them 4 times n everything I have been told that they will refer the matter to their fraud department n someone will come back to me,if course no one bothered to come back to me,for multinational company they need to invest to train their staff to be able to help people like me.
Thank god there was no money taken out of my bank so far but it worry me how someone have my name and address to send useless stuff to me n how Amazon can’t trace the person who made the orders n paid for them,I never trust shopping online now it’s very clear why.
This has stressed me badly n I suffers from heart issue n I don’t need this extra stress ,also the cost calling Amazon so called help line

Hi Heysham, see:-https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/amazon-prime-brushing-scam-explained/

for a dedicated topic for that scam.

David Hawkins says:
26 October 2020

I don’t think this problem will ever be resolved until scams are treated as a serious crime.
Perpetrators are seldom apprehended. The risks are small and it’s so easy for them to proliferate phone numbers and online addresses. They’ll just keep trying.

Peter Johnson says:
29 October 2020

I had a phone call this morning at 7.43 am purporting to be from Openreach. I told the caller I was not with BT and finished the call. Afterwards I called the number displayed and surprisingly it rang and somebody replied; usually the phone numbers are fictitious. I did not ask for details from the person who answered the phone but just thanked them and hung up when I was told I had the wrong number.