Reports of mail and phone fraud as Shared Regulatory Services promotes National Safeguarding Week
11 November 2016
Shared Regulatory Services is continuing its commitment to protecting vulnerable consumers by promoting National Safeguarding Week, which runs between November 14 – 18.
Having recently joined the national Friends Against Scams campaign to protect and prevent residents from losing money to fraud, the team will be on hand at Civic Offices in Bridgend between 10am and 2pm on November 14th to advise and warn residents about the dangers posed by mass marketing fraud.
Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.
In recent weeks, two particularly alarming cases were dealt with by the service.
A Cardiff man received a phone call stating that he was entitled to a council tax rebate. The caller claimed to be from the council and wanted an up-front payment to process his case. The unsuspecting consumer gave his card details. He has since visited his bank to cancel the cards and payment however the scammer had managed to take £67 from his account. The caller did not give any contact details and has not been in contact since.
A woman in the Vale of Glamorgan, who is predominantly housebound with limited mobility, has been responding to prize draw letters for several years. She started responding because it gave her something to do, and she wants to use the prize money to buy life-saving equipment for her local hospital.
When officers visited her, they found many boxes full of items she had purchased but does not need. She admitted that she only buys these goods so that she has a chance of winning the money.
Cllr Gwyn John, chair of the joint committee for Shared Regulatory Services, said: “Our Safeguarding Team works tirelessly with our key partners such as South Wales Police, Social Services and local charities to protect those residents who are particularly vulnerable to scams. We know there are individuals across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan who are losing thousands of pounds to clever fraudsters every day. These criminals play psychological tricks on people, who are often isolated or lonely. Sending a cheque or bank transfer becomes part of the regular routine, but the likelihood is that once the money runs out you won’t hear from the scammer again.”
During National Safeguarding Week, Shared Regulatory Services will be urging residents to make contact with officers who can offer a protective around vulnerable consumers. The following signs may point towards a loved one or neighbour being targeted by a scam:
An increase in ‘junk’ mail, especially in envelopes sent from countries such as the United States, Canada and Malaysia.
More frequent phone calls
Signs of regular cheque book use
A build-up of cheap-looking goods such as jewellery and health products, which may be stored in a garage or attic?•
Becoming secretive or aggressive when discussing finances
Cllr John added: “Our officers have helped prevent elderly consumers from making bank transfers of £25,000 to scammers in Hong Kong in the past. These are sums of money which have been accrued over life times by hard working people in our communities, and it’s heart-breaking to see it being snatched away in a matter of minutes. If you can’t come to see us in person in Bridgend on November 14th, please report the matter as soon as you can.”
If you believe a friend, neighbour or relative is losing money to scams, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. All calls are logged and forwarded to Shared Regulatory Services’ Safeguarding Team for assessment.