Citizens Advice Tameside is encouraging local people to raise awareness of scams - particularly throughout the coronavirus pandemic - during Scams Awareness Fortnight.
The Ashton-based bureau - which provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities - has carried out research which shows that one in three people in the North West have been targeted by a scammer since lockdown began.
Two in three people in the region are also worried someone they know will fall foul of a con, while the large majority of people (90 per cent) reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams.
With that in mind, Citizens Advice Tameside is encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk.
Nigel Morgan, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Tameside, said: "Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across Tameside. And despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns.
"One in three of North West locals have been targeted by a scam since lockdown began, showing we all need to be on high alert.
"It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks."
To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Tameside has shared the following tips on how to spot them.
- Look into installing a call blocker to help combat telephone scams
- Talk to your or their bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity or transactions from their account or credit cards
- Report the scam to Citizens Advice who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards
- Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
- If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts Citizens Advice may be able to help
People can also take the following steps to safeguard themselves and others:
- Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
- If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
- Never send money to someone you’ve never met
- Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
- Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
- Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
- Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams
Starting this week and running until June 28, it's Scams Awareness Fortnight and this year's campaign is focusing on the scams that opportunists have set up during the coronavirus pandemic.
Led by Citizens Advice, the campaign - which takes place annually in June - aims to raise awareness of scams and to help people protect themselves and others from becoming victims of scams.