TODAY, (November 10th) marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of the ScamwiseNI Partnership. The initiative was started by a number of organisations including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Department of Justice, The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Policing Board, in response to the growing number of scams circulating in NI.
The aim of the Partnership is to increase awareness and educate the public on how they can protect themselves and avoid falling victim to scammers.
Chair of the Partnership, Superintendent Gerard Pollock said: “I am delighted at how much the Partnership has achieved over the last five years. We initially started out with 15 members and now have over 45 partners representing a wide variety of groups, ranging from business and statutory to community, charitable and faith organisations.
“Our collaboration with partners has enabled us to create innovative schemes designed to educate and increase public awareness to ensure people know exactly what to do if they suspect they are the victim of a scam.
“Since 2016, there has been a significant rise in the number of reported scams and whilst there has been a rise in general around the UK and further afield, we are pleased that through our commitment to raising awareness, more and more people are spotting and therefore reporting scams.
“There is still a perception that older people are the main victims of scams however the public may be surprised to learn that the age group most affected are those aged between 20 and 49. The reason for this may be down to the growth in social media use and online shopping which has resulted in a huge increase in scams in those areas.
“Fraudsters are continually coming up with more sophisticated and convincing ways of duping people out of money and possessions so partnerships like ScamwiseNI are vital in ensuring they do not succeed,” added Superintendent Pollock.
Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland said:
“Congratulations to the ScamwiseNI partnership for reaching this significant milestone. My office has been involved since the establishment of this partnership and I am proud of how it has grown. It has had a positive impact on our community over the past five years raising awareness of this growing problem.
“We are living in a society where scammers will go out of their way to dupe people out of their money in lots of different ways. Anyone can become a victim of a scam which is why I, as Commissioner for Older People, will continue to work with and promote the partnership’s efforts to ensure our older citizens are well informed.
“Happy birthday ScamwiseNI – here’s to the next five years!”
Noyona Chundur, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council, said “Research carried out by the Consumer Council in 2021 found that 40% of people in Northern Ireland have unfortunately been targeted by a scam in the past three years.
“This research demonstrates the importance of having a collective such as ScamwiseNI present within Northern Ireland, and for that reason I am very proud to have been a part of the partnership for the past 5 years. As we become more reliant on the internet, scammers are finding new ways to target people, meaning our work in protecting consumers has never been more important.
“I look forward to continuing to work as part of the ScamwiseNI partnership in educating citizens on how they can better spot, stop, and report scams.”
ScamwiseNI has organised a range of important initiatives over the past five years including the launch of the ‘Scam? Ask Us’ initiative in March 2019, in partnership with the Post Office which was the first of its kind in the UK and a partnership with the British Deaf Association of Northern Ireland, where three free workshops were delivered to help the deaf community protect themselves against fraudsters.
The Scamwise Champion Scheme was another innovative launch which included a resource booklet which empowered young people to stay safe from scams and learn about how to report them.
Additionally, ‘The Psychology of Scamming’ event in partnership with Gumtree in November 2018 saw renowned scammer, Tony Sales, share his remarkable story of going from a convicted fraudster to fighter of crime, working with policing services and other agencies to detect and prevent scams.
The coronavirus pandemic has been an opportunity for scammers to exploit people but together, all partners have contributed in making sure information is readily available to protect the public from the many different Covid-19 scams.
For further advice and information visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni.
If you have any concerns about unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040. You can also call police on the non-emergency number 101.
If you receive a suspicious message, whether by email, website or text message you can take the following actions:
- Email – if you feel unsure about an email you have received, you can forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Services at email@example.com
- Website – If you have come across a website which you think is fake, you can report it here Report a suspicious website – https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/about-this-website/report-scam-website
- Text message – Report suspicious text messages for free to 7726. Your provider can investigate the text and take action if found to be fraudulent.