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UK European Consumer Centre

Scams Awareness Month 2017

Consumer advice organisation the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) is urging all consumers to take action if they feel they may have been the victim of a scam whilst making an EU-purchase.

The UK ECC is joining with other organisations such as the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and Citizens Advice in supporting Scams Awareness Month this July.

It is suspected that reported scams are just the tip of the iceberg, with many scams and fraud going unreported. Estimates show that £10.9 billion is the approximate amount lost each year to scams and fraud. And figures from the City of London Police show that between 2015 and 2016, victims of dating fraud alone lost a total of £40 million.

Andy Allen, service director at the UK ECC, said: "Scammers, who target unsuspecting people using increasingly sophisticated and manipulative tactics, can bring real upset and misery to their victims. Scams can originate from anywhere across the EU, which means that UK consumers can either fall foul of EU-scammers whilst visiting Europe or from the comfort of their own homes (via email, the internet or the phone).

"It is unfortunate but true that once somebody has fallen victim to one scam, they are much more likely to be targeted by other scammers. These consumers can end up on a list which is sometimes circulated amongst scammers."

Action Fraud victimology reports for 2014/2015 showed that there was a notable rise in victims who were 'prior' victims, showing a recurring cycle of scams being targeted at the same person.

Andy said: “There is a continuing stigma surrounding scams, with victims sometimes feeling reluctant to report the offence to the authorities, feeling embarrassed that they have fallen victim.

"But it’s important to remember that anyone can be targeted by a scammer - research shows that most of us have encountered a scam but not everyone knows what to do. That's why in this campaign we're urging everyone to play their part and act on scams in their community. We want people to report all scams they receive, not just those where they lose money

“Scams can take many forms and often involve the internet. Areas in which scammers operate could involve lotteries, prize draws and investment schemes; ticket scams; holiday clubs or timeshares and overseas car purchases."

The UK ECC has this advice for consumers if you are worried that you may have been the victim of a scam whilst making an EU-purchase:

  • Call the UK European Consumer Centre for practical advice and support 
  • For UK-related scams, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06
  • For both EU-related and UK-related scams, also report the scam to Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk 
  • Tell a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of

Scammers will often ask you:

 

  •  To send money up front - maybe an admin fee or tax
  •             For your bank or other personal details

  •           To ring a premium rate number

  •           To buy something, or pay something, to get your prize

You should also watch out for:

  • ‘Flashy’ websites for shipping companies, often with poor English

  •           Unsolicited approaches by email or text

  •           Requests for payment only by money transfer service or bank transfer

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