Scam? Ask Us initiative to help consumers targeted by fraudsters

The Post Office has joined a new effort to help consumers in Northern Ireland who are targeted in scams.

The ScamwiseNI Partnership is working with the Post Office on the Scam? Ask Us initiative.

It comes as the Consumer Council released new research indicating 32% of consumers in Northern Ireland have been targeted by fraudsters in the last three years.

The research also found the most common form of scam is via email and 69% of consumers said they would use an advice service offered by the Post Office if they thought they had been targeted.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative at the Long Gallery at Stormont, Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said there has been an increase in the number of scams that have been reported.

He said ScamwiseNI is doing all it can to make the general public more scam-aware.

“The idea of the scheme with the Post Office is to allow members of the public who might be concerned they are the victim of a scam or about to become the victim of a scam to walk into one of the 430 post offices across Northern Ireland and get some very simple advice,” he said.

“We are aware that not everyone is online, they are not all on Facebook or other social media platforms so it is very important that the ScamwiseNI partnership finds different ways of giving the message, this is a really powerful way of doing it.”

Mr Walls said one of the most common scams operating at present is via email, with fraudsters posing as computer companies asking their victim to download software, which then results in their bank accounts getting emptied.

But he warned there are many other scams operating.

Earlier this year, two Northern Ireland women were conned out of £65,000 and £40,000 respectively after being targeted in romance scams.

Mr Walls added: “Remember, if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The ScamwiseNI Partnership includes the PSNI, Northern Ireland Policing Board, Department of Justice, Commissioner for Older Persons, the Consumer Council, Trading Standards, Age Sector Platform, Royal Mail and a number of faith and youth groups.