This year, the coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in scam activity by criminals, adding to the already alarming statistics.
Each year, scams cost the UK economy around £5-£10 billion, and according to our statistics, the average scam victim has lost over £3000. Shockingly, while 53% of people over 65 have been targeting by scams, only 5% are reported.
Scams and the Green Homes Grant
In recent months, dubious activity of claims has risen, which is affecting consumers and causing substantial damage to the success of the Government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme in particular.
Trade organisations are successfully carrying out jobs in and around people’s homes, providing a professional service and making homes more energy efficient. However, the industry is now being targeted by claims companies who are cold calling householders with criminal motives.
These claims management companies are convincing homeowners that their properties were not suitable for the job in which was carried out and that they should pursue a claim (which they unknowingly have no prospect of winning).
A&M Energy Group, specialists in the supply and insulation of loft and cavity wall insulation products, have recently brought this criminal activity to our attention as their customers have fallen victim to this kind of scam.
Alexander Ross Laing, Managing Director and Group Chairman of A&M explains: “The costs of fighting these baseless claims are now crippling our business and many others.”
Earlier this year, A&M Energy Group became aware of a particular claim of one of their customers, who had never had any problems with the work carried out and was in fact extremely happy with the outcome. This customer had been persuaded by a claims company sales agent to take out legal expenses insurance to pursue a claim she apparently didn’t know she had.
Unfortunately, by trusting the sales agent and believing she would be awarded a large sum of money if she were to pursue the claim, this customer became another victim of a scam.
While she realised what was happening after being provided an expert report drafted on her property, it was too late. The customer immediately asked for the action to stop but had already incurred thousands of pounds by that point.
“This is just one example of the deplorable steps being taken to pursue steps to make money from nothing, whilst putting homeowners at risk and causing untold financial strain on companies like ours”, explains Alexander.
What We’re Doing to Help
At TrustMark, we support Friends Against Scams (FAS), an initiative set up by National Trading Standards to protect the vulnerable from criminal activity. It is designed to inspire action, highlight the scale of the problem, change the perceptions of why people fall for scams, and to make scams a community, regional and national topic.
If you follow us on social media, you may have seen some of the recent campaigns that the FAS team have launched, such as Scamnesty.
Scamnesty, a scam mailing amnesty, is a campaign which aims to encourage everyone in the UK to have a chat with their loved ones about scams and to send in any scam or unwanted mail into the team - free of charge. By running this campaign, the team hopes to protect and prevent more people from becoming victims of scams by empowering everyone to take a stand against them.
Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.
To find out more about Friends Against Scams, please visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.