Almost half of Scots hit by financial scams

Long-running scams such as unsolicited doorstep selling and cold calling are continuing to cost victims an average of almost �3,000, Citizens Advice has warned. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Long-running scams such as unsolicited doorstep selling and cold calling are continuing to cost victims an average of almost �3,000, Citizens Advice has warned. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Long-running scams such as unsolicited doorstep selling and cold calling are continuing to cost victims an average of almost £3,000, Citizens Advice has warned.

And a YouGov poll carried out on behalf of the charity found almost one in two Scots have been targeted by financial scams in the past year.

Forty-six per cent of people in Scotland surveyed said they had been approached by fraudsters at least once in the past year.

Of those, one in three had been targeted more than three times.

Last year Citizens Advice received more than 11,000 complaints about “more traditional” scams – overwhelmingly from older and more vulnerable people – with victims of postal scams suffering the highest average loss of £5,435.

Despite the rise in online scams, Citizens Advice found 58 per cent of all scams reported were through well-established methods, with fraudsters apparently targeting older people.

A total of 19,500 scams – offline and online – were reported to the charity’s consumer service in 2018 – an 8 per cent rise on the year before.

A survey for the charity found six in ten people (61 per cent) reported being targeted by a scam in the past two years. Of those targeted, less than half (48 per cent) told anyone about it.

One victim, a 70-year-old woman from West Sussex, was scammed by two men who knocked on her front door and offered to fix her roof and clean her gutters.

She said: “Since my husband passed away I’ve not kept up with work on the outside of the house. That was always his job. So when two men knocked on my door saying my gutters needed cleaning and roof tiles needed replacing urgently I agreed and handed over £520 in cash.

“When they said they were finished I went to look at their work, but one distracted me by saying he’d give me a certificate for a 10-year guarantee. But when he went to the van to get it, he just drove off. I looked at the gutters and I could still see the weeds and nothing had changed with the roof. I was clearly scammed.”

Citizens Advice and Trading Standards have launched their annual Scams Awareness campaign to encourage people to talk about their experiences and look out for others.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “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.”

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.”