Businesses and the fight against scams and fraud
What are Scams?
Scams come in many forms; uninvited contact is received by email, letter, and telephone or in person making false promises to con victims out of money. There are many of these sorts of scams but the some of the most common are fake lotteries, deceptive prize draws or sweepstakes, clairvoyants, computer scams, and romance scams.
The criminals attempt to defraud people with flashy, official looking documents or websites, or convincing telephone sales patter, with the aim of persuading them to send a processing or administration fee, pay postal or insurance costs, buy an overvalued product or make a premium rate phone call. Doorstep scams are crimes carried out by bogus callers, rogue traders and unscrupulous salespeople who call, often uninvited, at people’s home under the guise of legitimate business or trade.
Scams can also target businesses, tricking people into paying for products or services that do not exist or giving criminals access to company systems and sensitive data.
Scams are Fraud and Fraud is a Crime.
What is the impact of scams?
Scams affect the lives of millions of people across the UK. People who are scammed often experience shame and social isolation as a result. The average victim loses about £1,000 to scams but some have lost many thousands of pounds, even their homes. As well as the financial impact, the psychological and health impacts can be severe.
More than half of United Kingdom scam victims admitted to having changed their purchasing and payment behaviour, generally becoming more cautious or suspicious of any contact that could potentially be another scam. The psychological impact of scams can seriously damage an individual consumer’s trust in markets.
Mass marketing scams are a pervasive global criminal threat. The National Trading Standards Scams Team estimates that people in the UK lose between £5 and £10 billion to scams every year.
Furthermore, scams continue to increase as technology allows greater pinpointing of potential victims. Many ‘chronic’ victims are elderly, socially isolated, and vulnerable to repeat victimisation by criminals through the abuse of the postal system and other communications channels. Often their plight only comes to the attention of the authorities when they die, have exhausted their life savings, or their relatives become aware of the problem.
Why should businesses get involved in the fight against scams and fraud?
Anyone can be the victim of a scam, particularly with the growing sophistication of criminal techniques. Your staff, their families, and your customers are all potential victims.
The good news is that there is a role for everyone to play in the fight against scams and fraud, from individuals to large businesses. You can help to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of fraud by raising awareness of the problem and making it easy for customers to differentiate between genuine contact from your business and a criminal.
What can businesses do about scams and fraud?
- Join the growing Friends Against Scams movement – hundreds of public and private organisations of all sizes have already signed up as Friends Against Scams organisations. Make a pledge for all staff to complete the free Friends training. Just twenty minutes spent on the training could save your staff thousands of pounds. They will also be able to help protect customers, friends, and family from scams.
- Consider whether any of your customers may be made especially vulnerable to scams and fraud by their circumstances. Could the organisation extend any extra protections or help to these customers? For example, financial institutions should ensure all staff are trained to spot the signs that a customer may be being tricked into withdrawing money by a fraudster and to stop suspicious transactions.
- Consider whether any of your business practices might be making it easier for people to be scammed. Make sure you have robust policies to protect data you hold to avoid criminals from stealing your customer’s details and using this to defraud them. Take a critical look at your communications with customers – how will your customers know they are genuine? What information can you provide to customers about common fraud risks?
Protecting your business from scams and fraud
Businesses Against Scams is a free training pack focusing on the most common scams which target businesses. The training is designed for managers and employees who are authorised to make payments or who have access to sensitive company data. The training will help them to spot attempts to defraud your business and help protect your business from financial losses and reputational damage.
What is Friends Against Scams?
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams.
Friends Against Scams has been created to tackle the lack of scams awareness by providing information about scams and those who fall victim to them. This information enables individuals and organisations to understand scams, talk about scams and cascade messages throughout their communities.
The Friends Against Scams training is free for everyone. After taking the training, 83% of people said that the knowledge prevented them from becoming the victim of a scam. The programme encourages communities and organisations to take the knowledge learnt and turn it into action. On average, each person who took the training spoke to thirty people about how to protect themselves from scams, raising awareness and protecting their communities. More than a third had identified a friend or relative who was a victim and provided help and support.
We can’t do this alone. We want to work in partnership with businesses to increase the awareness and ensure that the possibility of a scam remains firmly at the forefront of everyone’s minds, enabling the vulnerable to recognise and report the criminals. Our team of experts can help you to educate and inform your staff and customers, get involved in your community and build your reputation as a caring employer and business.
Becoming a Friends Against Scams organisation is free. There are also sponsorship opportunities available for organisations with exclusive benefits that give your organisation a closer association with Friends Against Scams and the campaign to prevent fraud. Request a partner pack for information on sponsorship.
For more information, please visit the website www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk
Telephone: 01323 464444
Scams Team Email: firstname.lastname@example.org FAS email: email@example.com Website: www.nationaltradingstandards.uk