Scams affect the lives of millions of people across the UK. People who are scammed often experience shame and social isolation as a result.
Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities 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 communities and organisations to understand scams, talk about scams and cascade messages throughout communities about scams prevention and protection.
Friends Against Scams encourages communities and organisations to take the knowledge learnt and turn it into action.
Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.
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Why I am a Scambassador
By Sarah Burns, Managing Director, Prizeology
Anyone can fall victim to a scam – criminals are smart, they know how to press our buttons and they know exactly how to reel us in – and obviously I’m well-aware that the financial impact can be absolutely devastating, but what makes me particularly angry is the emotional impact being scammed can have. I get very fired up when I hear about criminals who explicitly target vulnerable people, and that sense of outrage is really what drives me to campaign against criminals that operate scams and this has led to me becoming a Scambassador.
I live and work in the London borough of Hackney and my local paper, the Hackney Gazette, has been very supportive in terms of publicising the fight against scams locally, but being a Scambassador has definitely raised my profile and the impact I can have, and I’m sure it’s helped in terms of making useful contacts and connections, not just in my local area with people like the Hackney Trading Standards Team, but increasingly on a national level too.
When I come across or read about scams, I highlight them via social media and on my company blog, The Prizeologist, and I make sure I share the posts on networks like LinkedIn, because I find that’s a very effective way of getting the message out there. Some of my professional connections are able to pass the message on via their own networks, which is great, and of course they all have families and friends, who could be potential victims of scams. Making sure everyone is vigilant is vital and I believe keeping the conversation about the dangers of scams going is so important – and something I’m quite good at.
Working in the prize promotions industry, as I do, puts me in a strong, if not unique, position and later this year I will be a launching an exciting new awareness-raising campaign. This will be both public-facing and industry-facing, because although I believe consumers need to be kept up-to-date on the tactics of criminals, I think the legitimate promotions sector needs this level of update as well.
Now I’m not suggesting for a moment that the UK prize promotions industry as a whole lacks integrity – it doesn’t. It works hard running legal and fair promotions, and it generally takes its responsibilities seriously. But nonetheless it needs to be kept informed about the continuous evolution of scams and it’s always worth highlighting that there are many small ways of maintaining that public confidence in the industry.
For promoters, what I’m talking about is checking that spelling and grammar in promotions are correct, making sure that terms and conditions for draws and competitions are really clear and sending out prizes promptly, so that it never ever crosses a winner’s mind that they’ve been scammed. This is all good practice and none of it’s difficult, plus it all benefits the prize promotions industry itself, as well as consumers.
If you work in the prize promotions industry and would like to be involved in my forthcoming campaign (and many thanks to those who have already said they do), please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). And even if you don’t work in prize promotions, but want to make a contribution, I’d love to hear from you. I’m fully committed to the fight against scams and criminals, and being made a Scambassador is really a great honour. I know I’m in excellent company and I only hope I prove myself worthy of the title!