1 in 3 people in Harrogate, targeted by a scammer since lockdown began says Citizens Advice

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1 in 3 people in Harrogate have been the target of a scam since lockdown came into effect across the country, finds Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts.

61% of people across the region are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And the large majority of people 88 % reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams.

Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts is working closely with and Trading Standards and North Yorkshire Police in encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk, especially people that are vulnerable, isolated or may still be shielding.

The charity has already helped clients report door step scams, loan shark activity and helped people deal with the financial fall out of being a victim of scammers since the lockdown began on March 23rd. One client in the Harrogate area recently downloaded an app from a criminal pretending to be a broadband provider, which promptly emptied their bank account and left them without money for food for the month. The organisation assisted in helping the family report the situation, coordinating their benefits and distributing food bank tokens to them.

Edward Pickering, CEO for Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts
Edward Pickering, CEO for Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts

Edward Pickering Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts said:

It’s always heart breaking to hear our clients have been targeted by scammers. Especially during the current COVID19 Crisis which has already left people financially vulnerable. Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across the region and despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns.

A staggering 1 in 3 of our residents have been targeted by a scam since lockdown began, showing we, all need to be on high alert.

We have seen a wide range of sophisticated scams targeting all different age groups. These can range from email and phishing scams through to doorstep and social media scams. The Coronavirus has unfortunately given criminals more opportunity to catch victims off guard as more people spend more time using technology at home and others are currently isolated from neighbours and carers who would usually keep an eye out for them due to lock down restrictions.

It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.

To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate Districts and Trading Standards are sharing the following tips on how to spot them.

If you’re worried you, or someone you know, could be getting scammed take the following steps:

  • 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 on 0808 250 5050, who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards
  • Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts Citizens Advice may be able to help

You can also take the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:

  • Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met
  • Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
  • Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
  • Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
  • Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams

If you need help from Citizens Advice Craven and Harrogate Districts call 01423 503591 or visit https://cachd.org.uk/

We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

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Harrogate Informer