A campaign has been launched today (13th October), to help empower older people and those who are not regularly online to stay safe against scammers.
The six-month long ScamwiseNI Partnership campaign features radio and newspaper advertisements, along with posters in public transport spaces, including bus shelters and inside buses.
Chair of ScamwiseNI, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Superintendent Gerard Pollock says: "Older people have higher levels of fear of scams and are perceived as vulnerable to scammers, and those who are not digitally active are also at greater risk of losing money in scams.
When that does happen, aside from the financial impact, this can really affect a person’s quality of life, their well-being and confidence in themselves.
“Too often there’s an unwarranted sense of stigma or embarrassment and feeling they've been tricked by someone they thought was genuine. In truth, the lengths gone to by criminal scammers today are extensive, and many of us now have to take a minute to question that email, that call or that text message before acting.
"From listening to older people, scams is one of their biggest issues of concern, and by using more traditional media in this campaign, we hope to reach more of our older people who may not be online as often. The aim is to empower them with key ways to stop a scam before they lose money."
Chief Superintendent Pollock said: "Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure at home, but unfortunately the list of scams is never ending, and many are highly sophisticated. We hope this campaign will help raise awareness among older people, and their loved ones, and encourage conversations on how to stop scams. Ultimately, we hope it will help reduce the number of scams against older people and help them stay safe."
Chief Superintendent Pollock added: "This campaign draws together what we are seeing in scam trends and we have distilled down the prevention advice into three key points which if followed can prevent people from losing money. My advice is always:
- Don’t respond to unknown calls and texts;
- Don’t give away personal information to people you don’t know;
- Don’t transfer money to unknown people.
Scammers think they’re smart, following these rules will show you’re smarter. Stop. Check. Report.”
The campaign is funded by the Department of Justice's Assets Recovery Community Scheme (ARCS).
Richard Pengelly CB, Permanent Secretary, Department of Justice said: “The Assets Recovery Community Scheme (ARCS) funding underpins the Department of Justice’s commitment to work in partnership to create a fair, just and safe community where we respect the law and each other. The ARC Scheme distributes funding recovered through the Courts from those with a criminal conviction who have confiscation orders made against them. Seizing and redistributing ill-gotten gains sends an important message that crime does not pay. This project will help empower older people to keep themselves safe against scammers.”
Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, said: “Scams are still a huge source of concern for lots of older people. Since we launched the ScamwiseNI Partnership with PSNI in 2016, knowledge and awareness of scams have increased, but unfortunately so have the scams. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to keep spreading awareness and ensuring that older people, in particular, who can be considered an easier target by scammers, are aware of how to spot a scam and how to stop it too. This is a really important campaign and I would encourage younger people to talk to their older parents and grandparents to help spread the message and ensure they protect their money, which very often they have worked all their life to save.”
Stop - do not feel rushed by any time pressure or deadline presented by the caller or text message. Genuine organisations or financial institutions will always give you time to consider your options without putting you under pressure. Time pressure is used by scammers to rush you to a decision.
Report - If you have been the victim of a scam you can report it to the PSNI at www.PSNI.police.uk/makeareport/ or by calling on 101. You can also report to www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040. In an emergency always call 999.