OVER a third of British adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began, according to research by Citizens Advice.
The charity has seen calls from members of the public concerned about bogus testing kits, vaccinations and government refunds, resulting in a 19% increase in visitors to their website.
In Staffordshire, the county’s Trading Standards service has also seen an increase in the number of scams and is warning people to be on the lookout.
From the research, the majority of people (64%) say they are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And most people (90%) reported they felt wary of scammers taking advantage of the situation.
Polling also showed that certain groups were at an increased risk of being contacted by a scammer, often those who could least afford it:
● Of those with a disability or long-term illness, 45% said they had been targeted
● Half (50%) of those at an increased risk of coronavirus or shielding had been contacted
● Over half (54%) of those who have lost personal income due to the virus have also been contacted.
Gill Heath, cabinet member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said: “Over the last few months we have seen a huge spike in the number of scams and it’s very worrying to think that one in three people may have been affected.
“Popular scams include, fake emails from HMRC, refund emails and doorstep scams. They may seem genuine, but are designed to obtain personal information, infect computers or take your money.
“We appreciate that many scams can appear genuine but If people are in any doubt at all they should ignore the offer, delete the email or hang up the phone if it’s a telephone call. "As always, people should be very wary about any unsolicited approaches.”
The research was carried out as part of The annual Scams Awareness campaign, from 15 to 28 June which is urging people to share and report their experiences of scams and look out for others. The two-week campaign is being organised by Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership.
Some tips from Citizens Advice if you’re worried you or someone you know is being scammed:
● 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
People can report online scams to Citizens Advice Scams Action service online at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/get-help-with-online-scams/ or on 0808 2505050.