With one in five people falling victim to fraud every year*, The Salvation Army is urging the public to be vigilant and aware of scams by using its unique position in communities across the country to offer advice and support to potential victims.
The church and charity has produced a series of resources to help Salvation Army churches and community centres across the UK provide support and advice to the people they come into contact with through various community projects including lunch clubs, befriending services, dementia friendly singing groups, drop ins, debt advice services and parent and toddler groups.
Gail Millar, Regional Specialist working with older people at The Salvation Army, has recently supported Sussex Police on its countywide Operation Signature, to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud within Sussex. They found nearly 50 per cent of adults have been targeted by fraudsters. Gail explains:
“These numbers are truly shocking but I believe we can learn from them and help tackle fraud more widely through raising awareness and giving advice.
“We have spoken to many victims of fraud who were enticed by a special offer that turned out to be too good to be true. A scam can take many forms and victims can be targeted through a number of avenues, through the post, over the phone, on your doorstep and increasingly online. It’s important that the public is aware of the many different methods fraudsters will use to pull off a scam. By being vigilant there are ways you can protect yourself from fraud criminals and we hope our resources will help people do this.”
Lead by its Older People’s Ministries team, The Salvation Army aims to help people of all ages in communities across the UK become more vigilant. Andrew Wileman, who heads up the department, highlights that the issue of falling victim to fraud is not just a problem for older people, he says:
“Most of us will know somebody who has been the victim of a scam but we find that people are often ashamed to admit this and only five per cent of victims actually report the crime. Our team has seen on a number of occasions the stress and anxiety this has caused at our front-line services. We believe that this is a very real issue that allows us to minister with both spiritual and practical concern to the many people who are victims to scams and fraud.
“Whilst older people may be more susceptible to this crime we recognise that anyone can be targeted by fraudsters and we hope we can give people the information they need to take action and help stop more people falling victim.”
For more information on the campaign you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All fraud should be reported to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.org.uk or 0300 123 2040 and if the victim is vulnerable or elderly you may want to call your local police on 101.