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Partner briefing

This briefing provides information about this year’s campaign and how you can get involved, as well as offering support, useful information and contact details to help make this year’s campaign a success.

You can find more materials to help you campaign in your communities on our resources page.

Introduction to the campaign

Thank you for taking part in the 2021 Scams Awareness Campaign, which will take place from 14 - 27 June. This annual campaign is all about creating a network of confident, #ScamAware consumers who are able to recognise a scam, report it to the appropriate agency and talk about their experiences to help raise public awareness of scams.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it even more important to empower the public to protect themselves against scams. Last year, we saw an increase in scams relating to coronavirus as fraudsters tried to take advantage of all the uncertainty of the pandemic. As the country moves towards economic recovery, scams continue to be a prevalent issue, with scammers seeking to exploit the fall out of the pandemic.

The campaign has gone from strength to strength thanks to all your work. Over the past five years the number of organisations taking part has more than doubled. Together we’ve helped thousands of people seeking help with scams, with more calls to the consumer service and reports to ActionFraud. Together we have managed to raise a huge amount of awareness of scams across the country. Thank you!

Why campaign on scams?

Spam emails, ‘suspicious activity’ alerts from your bank, news stories about data breaches – unfortunately, scams and fraud seem to have become part of our daily lives. They can affect anyone - a recent Citizens Advice report found that almost three quarters of people surveyed had been targeted by a scam in the previous two years - and can cause a lot of harm. The National Audit Office (NAO) has estimated that individuals in the UK lose £10 billion a year due to fraud, not to mention the emotional impact.

Financial Scams

Scammers seek to exploit vulnerability, and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Many people are in difficult situations, facing issues with employment, debt, housing and health. We’ve seen evidence that scams are exploiting the financial pressures this is putting people under.

Consumer Service data shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of scams relating to financial services reported in the past year. These can include things like:

  • Adverts offering fake “Get Rich Quick” investment schemes

  • Phone calls, texts or emails from scammers pretending to be your bank, so they can get you to transfer money to them or give them your personal details

  • Scam emails or automated calls pretending to be from an official organisation, like HMRC calling about a tax issue

  • An offer of a pensions review out of the blue

With many people losing jobs, losing income and struggling to pay their bills, it is no surprise that there has been a rise in such scams. These issues are likely to remain prominent as we move out of the pandemic.

As a result, this year’s Scams Awareness campaign will be focusing on the financial scams that have emerged as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

What do we want to achieve?

Through the Scams Awareness campaign we want to:

  • Equip consumers with the knowledge and skills they need to recognise scams

Scams come in many forms and are increasingly complex and sophisticated. We want to arm people with the knowledge they need to recognise scams, so they can protect themselves and those around them.

  • Empower people to take action by getting advice and reporting scams

If someone thinks they’ve been scammed, there are steps they can take to protect themselves from things getting worse. If they take action immediately, they might even be able to recover some of the money they lost. It can also give people a feeling of control.

However, it’s not always clear what to do and who to report to. We need to make it simple and easy for people to understand the steps they should take - and make sure they have the confidence to do so.

  • Encourage people to talk about their experiences and help others

Research shows people often still feel a sense of shame about falling for a scam. This stigma contributes to under-reporting, and stifles conversations around protecting yourself and others. By encouraging people to talk openly about their experiences and emphasise their responsibility to help others, we can help break down this stigma and raise awareness of scams.

Safely campaigning during the COVID-19 outbreak

While coronavirus restrictions are easing across the country, it's important that all campaigners continue to adhere to government safety measures and take the necessary precautions to only spread our messages - not the virus. The safety of you and the people we are trying to reach is the biggest priority.

Where appropriate some in-person campaigning may be able to take place this year, but to allow as many people as possible to participate safely we will continue to put more emphasis on digital outreach. To reflect this shift, we have provided more electronic resources to increase the digital capacity of the scams awareness campaign.

Reaching the digitally excluded

As we are all susceptible to falling victim to scams, we want the campaign to reach as many people as possible. Limited face-to-face campaigning this year will make it more difficult to get through to those who are digitally excluded. It is really important that we reach these groups as they are often some of the most at risk from scams.   

In the next section, we have provided suggestions for how to get involved. While many of these can be done digitally, we’ve also included campaign activities that target people who are digitally excluded and might be more difficult to reach through the electronic campaign resources.

If you would like guidance and advice on how to safely carry out any activities you are planning please email campaigns@citizensadvice.org.uk.

How to get involved

There are lots of ways you can take part in this year’s scams awareness campaign. We’ve pulled together a page of suggested activities. No matter how much time you have to spend raising awareness - whether that’s 2 minutes or 2 weeks - there’s an option for you.

It’s worth talking to potential partners, such as Trading Standards, police and crime commissioners’ offices, and local authorities about the evidence of scams locally and how best to prioritise activities.

Good partnership work with local organisations and community groups in your area will be central to a successful campaign and ongoing scam-fighting activities throughout the year.

We understand that carrying out campaign activities that involve the digitally excluded will be more difficult this year; anything you can do to help raise awareness of scams in your area is greatly appreciated.

Key messages

This year we've created a key messages and advice guide [Word 0.5 mb]. This can be used to help inform your campaign work, for example if you’re doing a radio interview or want to write your own content.

The guide includes some facts about scams and tips on how people can spot a scam and protect themselves against them, along with advice on what to do if someone has been scammed. There's also information on where people can go if they need more help.

Get in touch

Whatever you do for Scams Awareness Fortnight 2021, please let us know about it, so we can highlight your efforts. It will also help us to evaluate and improve the campaign for future years.

You can sign up to our mailing list Google form  to indicate your involvement as well as receive updates about the campaign including when resources will be available online.

If you are tweeting remember to use #ScamAware. You can also email us pictures and updates about your events directly to campaigns@citizensadvice.org.uk.

If you are part of the Citizens Advice service you can let us know about your activities by sending a Local Action Reporting Form.

For any queries about this resource or the Scams Awareness campaign please contact campaigns@citizensadvice.org.uk

Useful links and resources

There are lots of other resources, content and advice that you can use to help you campaign, some of which are listed below. You can also take a look at our Partner Hub, where we’re signposting people to resources, training and materials from partners and other relevant organisations.

Resources to help teach consumers about scams

  • Citizens Advice scams advice pages. Citizens Advice offers free advice and helps people to find a way forward. You can also contact the consumer service for free consumer advice, including advice on scams at 0808 223 1133 (or 0808 223 1144 to contact a Welsh-speaking adviser).

  • Friends Against Scams. Run by the National Trading Standards scams team, the campaign aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities and businesses to ’Take a Stand Against Scams’.

  • The Pensions Regulator has handy downloads for consumers to help them spot pension scams.

  • The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice, including advice about scams.

  • The Financial Conduct Authority has a register of authorised financial firms at www.fca.org.uk/register and a list of firms which have been implicated in scams. The FCA website also has advice to help investors avoid falling victim to scammers and a Scam Smart game showing examples of investment scams. 

  • Get Safe Online are an organisation aimed at informing consumers to protect themselves from online scams with factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.

  • www.cyberaware.gov.uk is a website launched by the government aimed at helping the public and small businesses to spot and avoid fraud, by raising awareness and promoting digital security for online users.

  • Led by UK Finance and backed by the government, Take Five is a national awareness campaign providing advice and tips for consumers on how to protect themselves from financial fraud.

Help for people who have been scammed

  • Think Jessica is a charity that raises awareness of scams that target elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes, including by telephone, the postal system and on the doorstep. 

  •  Victim Support gives free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales. Call 0808 1689 111.

  • Age UK has local branches around the UK providing help and support for older people. Call the national line for free on 0800 678 1602.