Citizens Advice has reported that it has had over 11,000 complaints last year by people suspicious about possible offline scams. These classic tactics from the scammers’ playbook include unsolicited doorstep selling, mail and cold calling, and saw people lose an average of almost £3,000. Scams sent through the post resulted in the highest average loss at £5,435.
Citizens Advice found that, despite an overall increase in online scams, more than half (58%) of scams reported to the charity in the last year were using these well-established methods. Fraudsters using these methods are known to overwhelmingly target older, more vulnerable people.
A total of 19,500 scams were reported to the charity’s consumer service in 2018, an 8% increase from the year before.
Additional polling commissioned by Citizens Advice showed six in 10 people (61%) reported being targeted by a scam in the past two years. Of those targeted, less than half (48%) said they told anyone about it.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “Tried-and-tested scams still pose a huge threat. Even in this digital age where online scams are on the rise, scammers are continuing to use traditional routes to prey on people. Tactics like doorstep selling, sending unsolicited letters and cold calling give scammers the opportunity to build a relationship with their victim. Unfortunately, it’s usually more vulnerable and isolated people who are affected.”
“The gap between the number of people recognising they’ve been targeted and those actually speaking up it about shows the importance of this Scams Awareness campaign. We must work together to combat fraudsters by being more open about scams and helping each other understand what to look for.“
Leon Livermore, Chief Executive of Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said “With newer, more sophisticated scam techniques often dominating headlines, it’s easy to forget that ‘tried-and-tested’ scams are still out there, and are just as dangerous as they have always been – especially for the most vulnerable within society.”
“Through campaigns like Scams Awareness, and initiatives like Friends Against Scams, we can inform and arm consumers with the power to spot potential threats, so they know where to turn if they need help.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, of National Trading Standards, said “As more of our day-to-day activity takes place online, a lot of attention is rightly focused on online scams that can catch people out. However, the more traditional scams – from doorstep cold-callers to mail fraud – have not disappeared. Instead, we’re seeing these scams increasing as criminals adopt more sophisticated techniques to avoid detection, such as sending scam mail via third party countries and using of ‘blank’ envelopes.”
“Importantly, these types of offline scams can cause significant harm emotionally as well as financially, particularly when people – often in vulnerable situations – are deceived and put under pressure in their own home. That’s why we’ve launched the Friends Against Scams initiative, which provides training and support to empower people to take a stand against scams: www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.”