A fraud awareness campaign has this week been launched by police across Somerset with the help of local residents to target doorstep fraud as well as phone and online scams.
The Stop It, Spot It campaign has been developed following input from local people in Burnham-On-Sea and across the force area.
Residents have taken part in focus groups as well as a survey to help identify the ways in which they currently protect themselves from different types of fraud and the kinds of advice they want to receive.
The campaign, a Home Office initiative piloted in Avon and Somerset and supported by the police, is aimed particularly at those aged over 60 following research showing this age group is particularly vulnerable to fraudsters.
Figures from Action Fraud show that in the Avon and Somerset area last year local residents aged over 60 lost more than £5million as a result of this type of offence.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the types of tactics fraudsters use and provide advice on how people can prevent it. It is supported by Action Fraud, Trading Standards, Victim Support, Crimestoppers and Neighbourhood Watch.
The launch of the campaign coincides with Get Safe Online Week and the Home Office’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, which aim to raise awareness of online scams to all age groups.
Leaflets and other materials are being distributed across the force area and an advert campaign is also being run in local newspapers.
Kirstie Cogram, head of the Economic Crime Unit at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Fraud, whether it is online, telephone or doorstep crime, is a horrible experience for the victim. Fraud techniques can be very convincing and can be costly and extremely upsetting for those affected.”
“We would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with the fraud prevention advice and also to pass it on to their friends and family.”
“The more we can check what we are being told over the phone, online or on the doorstep, the harder it will become for fraudsters to profit from honest people.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I’m very supportive of this campaign and the work being done to help people protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud. It’s a crime which often has a big impact on victims so this activity to raise awareness of the issue and stop people becoming victims is very important.”
Karen Bradley, Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime, said: “This government is committed to protecting people at risk of becoming the victims of serious and organised crime. Fraud against the public is believed to cost about £9 billion a year, but the real cost to victim’s lives is far greater. That’s why we’re fully supportive of this initiative, which provides straightforward advice on how to protect yourself from fraud.”