New scamming initiative welcomed

5.3.2019 | Mission News, Social Witness, Church in Society, Resources

The Secretary to PCI’s Council for Social Witness, Lindsay Conway, has welcomed the latest initiative by the ScamwiseNI partnership, ‘Scam? Ask Us’. Run by the Post Office, customers across Northern Ireland can ask counter staff for their advice if they think they have received an unusual or suspicious request that could be a scam.

The Partnership includes a range of organisations that have developed initiatives that are aimed at preventing and reducing crime against older and more vulnerable people. Speaking after he attended the launch of ‘Scam? Ask Us’ at Parliament Buildings yesterday, Mr Conway said, “This new initiative is a vital part of the ScamwiseNI partnership that gives all users of Post Offices an information point and advice from counter staff.

“It is important that we all become more aware of the daily potential of being scammed – which could be online, by telephone or at our own front door. As a Church we are committed to playing our part in getting that information into congregations.”

Having met with PSNI last year, the leaders of Ireland’s main churches, which included the Moderator, Dr Charles McMullen, endorsed the ScamwiseNI key message, ‘If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam’. At the time they encouraged clergy and church members to spread the Scamwise message to friends and family, especially those who would be more susceptible to scams.

At the launch of ‘Scam? Ask Us’, the Consumer Council released figures from its Consumer Insight Survey that revealed that 32% of people have been targeted by a scam in the last three years - with emails being the most common form of fraudulent attempt, accounting for 74%.

Discussing the initiative and welcoming the Post Office’s involvement, PSNI’s Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said that scammers’ sophistication and ability to exploit complex technology had developed over the years and they continue to groom vulnerable victims.

Speaking at the launch he said, “Unfortunately over the past number of years we have seen an increase in the number of scams that are being reported to police. Scams are not simply an issue for older or vulnerable people within our society, they can happen to anyone regardless of age and, unfortunately, there is a scam out there with each of our names on it. The ScamwiseNI Partnership are doing all we can to highlight these so that the general public become scam aware.”

The Partnership advises that one of the best ways to fight scammers is to take steps to prevent being caught out in the first place using a simple four-step scam test: you’re being scammed if something Seems too good to be true; you’re Contacted out of the blue; you’re Asked for personal details and Money is requested.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has been aware of the issue for some time and has been supportive of initiatives that combat scamming. “Two years ago our Council heard from the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, when Eddie Lynch came to talk about this issue with us,” Lindsay Conway said.

“As a Church we provide residential care and supported housing for over 250 older and vulnerable people across a number of locations in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With congregations in regular contact with older people through Senior Member Groups and Luncheon Clubs, it is important that we are all aware of the dangers involved, what precautions can be put in place and what support and advice is available, like the new Scamwise initiative with the Post Office,” he said.

A multi media campaign will run as part of the initiative to raise awareness of scams. The Post Office has also developed four short videos as part of the ‘Scam? Ask Us’, which can be viewed on YouTube here.

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