Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan recently sponsored an event in the Scottish Parliament aimed at helping MSPs protect their constituents from scams.
The islands’ MSP hosted the reception on behalf of Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the consumeradvice.scot service. MSPs joined Trading Standards experts and Advice Direct Scotland staff – including Sean Harrison, Manager of at the Advice Direct Scotland contact centre in Stornoway.
Common scams include bogus callers who are offering services such as landscape gardening or maintenance work in a bid to gain access to properties; online marketplace traders selling fake goods; and fake emails claiming to be from companies including Amazon, banks, or government departments.
Scams cost the UK economy up to £10billion a year, and 53% of people over 65 have been targeted by scams. However, only 5% of scams are reported. If more potential scams are reported to consumeradvice.scot, the organisation can work with Trading Standards and Police Scotland to raise awareness and prevent more people being scammed.
consumeradvice.scot was launched in April this year with financial support from the Scottish Government following the devolution of consumer powers, and is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland. It provides free, impartial and practical advice directly to consumers in Scotland.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“Sadly, I know from my own caseload that a significant number of people in the islands fall victim to scams every year.
“Advice Direct Scotland has a significant presence in Stornoway and I was delighted to be able to sponsor this reception aiming to spread awareness of the problems and offer practical guidance to MSPs.
“By following advice from Scotland’s new consumer advice service, people can spot the tell-tale signs and avoid being left out of pocket. But there is no shame in being conned as scammers use sophisticated techniques to trick people, so it’s important to report any suspicions to consumeradvice.scot so that action can be taken.”
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of consumeradvice.scot, said:
“Realising that you may have been the victim of a scam can be extremely upsetting and worrying.
“As Scotland’s new consumer advice service, we are working hard to make people more aware of scams, and advise those who are scammed.
“It’s very important that any potential scams are reported to us as soon as possible so that we can raise awareness with Trading Standards and the police.”