Consumer Minister Paul Scully has signed up to become a SCAMbassador for Friends Against Scams, the pioneering National Trading Standards (NTS) scheme empowering people of all ages to fight scams by providing free online training and spreading awareness to make scams part of everyday conversation.
The Minister, Friends Against Scams’ one millionth recruit, will raise awareness about scams nationally in his new role as a SCAMbassador, joining a growing army of citizens taking a stand against fraudsters targeting vulnerable people.
The initiative, which launched in 2017, has saved society £59 million*, with 97% of those who completed the training reporting they are now less likely to fall victim to a scam**.
Speaking at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)’s annual conference today, the Minister lauded the Friends Against Scams initiative and praised the vital work the National Trading Standards Scams Team is doing to protect the public.
Scully said: “I am delighted to have become a SCAMbassador for Friends Against Scams. Scammers are always trying to stay one step ahead and are completely immune to people’s suffering. We need to do all we can to ensure scams are reported and action is taken as a result so we can protect ourselves, our friends, our family and each other.”
The scheme works by giving people, including those who have already been targeted by scams, the confidence to fight back by:
- Completing awareness sessions in person, or online training to become a Friend Against Scams.
- Training and recruiting Friends by signing up to become a SCAMchampion.
- Supporting the NTS Scams Team’s investigative and enforcement work by registering to become one of FAS’ Scam Marshals, now tackling scams in 95% of local authorities across England and Wales.
- Resources are also available for businesses; organisations can pledge to support the initiative and high-profile individuals can use their national influence to raise awarenesss by becoming a SCAMbassador.
Lord Michael Bichard, new Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “The impact of scams can be devastating to victims, both emotionally and financially. With these crimes on the increase, they also represent a significant and growing cost to the economy. Never has trading standards’ robust, flexible and coordinated approach to enforcement been more important to help protect people and reduce consumer and business detriment.
“Friends Against Scams has become a significant tool in the fight against the scammers and I’m delighted that it has now supported and empowered a million people to protect themselves and spread awareness in their communities.
“To take enforcement action against the criminals, we rely on reporting and urge people to continue to report scams to the Citizens Advice consumer service or Action Fraud.”
Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: “We’re delighted that the Consumer Minister Paul Scully has become our millionth Friend and are pleased to have his support as a SCAMbassador.
“We’re proud to have supported so many people to fight back against the fraudsters through Friends Against Scams. Every conversation about scams that happens up and down the country can stop another person from becoming a victim and we want to thank everyone doing this vital work to protect themselves, their families and their communities. Through our growing army of Friends, we can build community resilience from grass roots to grey roots and stop fraudsters infiltrating at local levels.
Patrick Keane, Friends Against Scams SCAMchampion, said: “Being a SCAMchampion keeps me up to date with the scams that are out there, helping me protect myself from scams and spread the word to vulnerable people. There are lots of initiatives to combat scams, but none as effective as Friends Against Scams, which works closely with people to give them the confidence to take a stand against scams.”
More information about Friends Against Scams and the ways that individuals and organisations can take a stand is available at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.
*Financial savings calculated by Optimity Advisors Ltd
**NTS Annual Report 2021/22