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This week’s short debate was led by Caroline Jones AM (BXP, South Wales West) on the subject of scams and cold-calling.
Scams are becoming more and more sophisticated
Caroline Jones warned that the public was becoming increasingly targeted by more sophisticated scam techniques, including fake adverts, copycat websites and fake investment opportunities. Fraud and computer misuse crimes were now the most common crimes experienced by people, with bank and credit card fraud increasing by 28% over the last year.
An estimated 500,000 people in the UK are on so-called “suckers’ lists” where their stolen information is sold between scammers. She said the best way to deal with the problem was proper public awareness and education, and telling people not to feel ashamed or embarrassed for being conned or lied to.
“We must increase the number of consumer education campaigns in order to inform the public about what constitutes the different types of scam. We must send out a clear message that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to be embarrassed about falling victim to such a crime. You wouldn’t be embarrassed about admitting you were mugged, so why should falling victim to a highly-skilled criminal be treated any differently? Embarrassment is, unfortunately, a major reason why only one in five scams is being reported.”
– Caroline Jones AM
Michelle Brown AM (Ind, North Wales) said prosecutions for scams were “extremely rare” and called on major social media and digital companies to use their data gathering to spot scams and people most vulnerable to falling victim to one.
Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) welcomed Welsh Government support for no-cold-calling zones but wanted to go further and make Wales a no-cold-calling country.
Communities looking out for each other
Deputy Minister without portfolio, Jane Hutt (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan) said scams were often extremely distressing for those affected – many of whom were often in their 80s or 90s. While no-cold-calling zones were one way to deal with it, scams are increasingly happening away from the doorstep.
“I welcome the actions being taken by the national trading standards scams team to train 1 million friends across the UK by 2020, including 50,000 in Wales over the next two years. Think about encouraging people to look out for each other within their communities and recognising the signs that someone might be at risk – that can only be a positive step in the prevention of further crimes.”
– Deputy Minister without portfolio, Jane Hutt
The Welsh Government also funded Tarian (the four Welsh police forces serious crime unit) to tour the country in a bus to educate people about scams and online security.