Sling your hook! Hastings Neighbourhood Watch joins campaign against fraud

Hastings Neighbourhood Watch (HNW) is helping combat fraud by promoting a warning that explains the psychology around why people fall victims to online scams.

The ‘Sling Your Hook’ campaign is based on a national study of the top-five tactics used by scammers and is designed to help people protect themselves from the many that happen every day.

Chair of HNW John Bownas said: “We know that victims of scams often report that in hindsight they felt something was wrong at the time. That’s why we’re raising awareness of the tactics scammers use, and encouraging people to ‘stop and think’. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s probably time to trust your gut instinct to prevent yourself from becoming a scam victim.”

The study identified the most common ways scammers hook people in; by knowing what these are, people can stay one step ahead of them.

John explained the warning signs to look out for: “If you are contacted out of the blue by someone who tries just a bit too hard to be friendly, that’s probably the first time to be cautious – especially if they imply they’re trying to do you a favour. If you miss those warning signs look out for a request to do something seemingly minor and unimportant, because that can soon lead to requests to do more. If when you say ‘no’ you’re told everyone else is doing what they are asked to do and that this is your last chance to act—then it’s almost certainly time to end the conversation now.”

The campaign advises everyone to do everything they can to maintain their guard against cold calls, e-mails, SMS messages and any other form of unsolicited contact.

They say to:

  1. CHALLENGE anything that seems fake or suspicious;
  2. STOP and take a moment to think before parting with any money; and
  3. REPORT anything that feels like you may have fallen victim – both to your bank and to the police, via ‘Action Fraud’.

CEO of HNW John Hayward-Cripps said: “Anyone can be caught out by scammers. If you sense something’s wrong, give a clear and firm ‘no’. Politeness and fear of offence can make us more vulnerable—we want to tell people it’s ok to be firm in telling scammers you are not interested.”

Almost half a million consumer fraud cases were recorded in the UK over the last year, at a reported loss of £2.5billion. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and using a wider range of platforms, leading to more and more people being caught out, especially via online shopping, personal banking, and investment fraud scams.

As lockdown eases, ticket and holiday scams are now particularly prevalent. One recent scam saw victims contacted via email and text after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine and being asked to take a fake survey with the promise of a cash prize. There’s also been a significant increase in delivery company branded ‘smishing’ (SMS fraud), with scammers asking customers to click a link to reschedule deliveries or pay incomplete shipping charges.

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