A pioneering East Sussex-based scheme fighting against scammers has launched a national campaign to target the problem.
Every year, criminal scams cost consumers between £5 billion and £10 billion – causing untold emotional and psychological damage.
The National Trading Standards Scams Team, hosted by East Sussex Trading Standards, hopes the Friends Against Scams campaign will raise awareness of the issue and prevent more people becoming victims.
People who sign up to the campaign can benefit from free training and awareness – online and in person at local sessions – and are urged to share their knowledge with others.
Louise Baxter, team manager at the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said, “While scammers often target the vulnerable, anyone can be taken in and awareness is the key to not becoming a victim.
“Scam victims suffer a huge financial and emotional toll, and many people are left feeling socially isolated and uncomfortable to tell people what happened.
“By becoming a Friend Against Scams, people can learn how the scammers work and how to avoid falling prey, to protect themselves, their friends, neighbours and loved ones.”
Cllr Chris Dowling, East Sussex County Council lead member for community services, said, “We’re very proud that the scams team, which is doing such fine work to tackle this problem, is based here in East Sussex.
“We’ll be joining with authorities and other organisations across the country to encourage as many people as possible to sign up, to empower themselves and others to fight back against the scammers.”
People can learn how to become a Friend Against Scams online.
Anyone who is worried they or someone they know might have become a victim of scams is asked to call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.