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Sutherland residents warned about cost-of-living cons – Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight campaign hammers the scammers

By David G Scott

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Consumers in Sutherland have been urged to be aware of new cost-of-living scams as national ScamWatch Fortnight gets under way.

This year’s ‘Read Between the Li(n)es’ campaign highlights the importance of remaining vigilant – with fraudsters using emails, texts and social media to prey on people of all ages.

Advice Direct Scotland (ADS), which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot on behalf of the Scottish Government, continues to see new tactics deployed as criminals try to manipulate struggling households.

Scammers are on the prowl and taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis.
Scammers are on the prowl and taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis.

With energy bills set to soar, reported scams include fake discounts on prepayment meters and bogus offers of energy or HMRC rebates, which leave potential victims even more disadvantaged.

Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for ADS, said: “With scammers using a mixture of methods to target Scots consumers, it has never been more important for us to be aware of how to avoid them.

“We have seen scammers adapt their tactics in line with major world events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis in Ukraine. New scams including fake energy rebates are being recorded as scammers try to exploit the challenging circumstances facing many families across Scotland."

Colin Mathieson from ADS.
Colin Mathieson from ADS.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight is an “important campaign helping people to read between the lines when they are contacted unexpectedly by someone over the phone, by email or at their front door”.

Consumers are also being warned about investment scams such as cryptocurrency deals, often featuring sham celebrity or expert endorsements, circulated on social media.

Alongside this are bank telephone scams and romance frauds, designed to steal money.

Scots are also being encouraged to be aware of traditional doorstep scams by bogus callers posing as tradespeople.

The Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight, which runs on social media platforms until August 28, will look at scam methods and offer free advice on the ways in which consumers can reduce exposure to scammers.

Anyone who wants to report a scam should fill in the ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool at www.scamwatch.scot, which collects intelligence to share with various authorities.

If you have been contacted by someone and you are concerned they may be trying to scam you:

  • Don’t send them any money or buy anything; you should always do your homework before agreeing to anything such as checking online reviews of the company.
  • Don’t give them any personal information, bank details, passwords or PIN numbers. If you have given out this type of information, you should change all passwords and pins and notify your bank.
  • Don’t download any attachments or files in emails or click on any links. If you have, then you should check that your device security is up to date and run a virus scan.
  • Don’t ring any numbers you’ve received in an email or letter, especially if it’s a premium rate number. If you are unsure about the cost of dialling a particular number, contact your service provider for advice.
  • Don’t let them into your house. If you are concerned about someone that you have allowed into your house who has refused to leave or someone knocking on doors in your area, call the police.

The ScamWatch campaign will provide tips on how to spot and avoid common scams, such as checking the legitimacy of investment opportunities, and the importance of using approved and trusted traders.

Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland at: consumeradvice.scot service.

Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 164 6000; and online, web chat and email at: www.consumeradvice.scot.

More information on the campaign is available here: consumeradvice.scot/scamwatch22/

The simple ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool is available to report suspected scams and suspicious activity at www.scamwatch.scot. You can also contact Police Scotland 101 or dial 999 in an emergency.

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