First Published: 04 November 2019
The Local Government Association (LGA) is the latest flagship organisation to join the Friends Against Scams campaign, joining the likes of NatWest, Age UK and Neighbourhood Watch to protect UK consumers from mass marketing fraud.
Each year mass marketing mail scams, which often target vulnerable or disadvantaged communities, cost UK consumers £5-10 billion ever year. More than half (53%) of people over the age of 64 have been targeted by scams and the average scam victim has lost more than £3000.
The LGA is actively supporting the initiative and encourages all local authorities to join the 300,000 participants across the UK who have taken the online training and become a Friend Against Scams. By signing up, local authorities receive resources and support packages to help their staff and local communities identify potential scams and report them.
Only 5% of scams are reported, which is why empowering organisations and neighbourhoods to identify, prevent and report scams is so important.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Fraud, including scams, is now the most common type of crime in the country with more than two scams and attempted scams being reported to some councils every day.
“Anyone can fall for a scam so it’s important to keep an eye out for friends, families and neighbours. People targeted can be at risk of losing their life savings and suffer deteriorating health after falling victim to scam letters and phone calls and doorstep criminals. Talking about scams helps break the stigma around falling victim and also helps to raise people’s awareness.
“This is why the LGA supports Friends Against Scams and encourages councils to do the same as part of their work to prevent people from becoming victims of scams.”
Mass marketing fraud is a global crisis, led by organised crime networks based overseas who target UK households. The international nature of the issue – and the increasingly sophisticated tactics used by the criminal gangs – means that empowering households, families, organisations and communities to identify scams is critical in preventing more people falling victim to scams.
Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team said: "The tactics used by criminals often leaves victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what's really going on behind closed doors.”
“It is fantastic to have such an influential organisation in the community to help us tackle this problem on a local, regional and national level and I would encourage all those that are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our growing Friends Against Scams network.”
Friends Against Scams is celebrating its third anniversary and so far over 300,000 people have completed the scams awareness training. To find out more about the initiative and how to get involved visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.