Scammers targeted in Scotland
The Scams Prevention, Awareness and Enforcement Strategy will deliver a three-pronged approach focusing on prevention and disruption, awareness and education and enforcement.
Delivered by the Scottish Scams Prevention Partnership, it has been created amid concerns of a rise in criminal activity among fraudsters in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Trading Standards Scotland, people have reported scammers cold calling households and posing as Red Cross, NHS or council workers to collect donations for fake Covid-19 charities.
Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Scamming is a criminal offence – it is a form of fraud. We must tackle scams in the same way that we do any other type of criminal activity, with the full power of the relevant enforcement bodies and through a wider process of public education, resilience building and stakeholder coordination.
“Given the economic uncertainty we now face in light of the current global pandemic, and the increased vulnerable circumstances that many people are finding themselves in, it is essential that we tackle this issue head on.
"We must make it as hard as possible to perpetrate this crime in Scotland and ensure support is accessible for those people who lose out as a result of this disgraceful activity."
The new partnership will build on the work of the current advisory group whose members included Police Scotland, Trading Standards Scotland, Advice Direct Scotland and Citizen's Advice Scotland, among others.
Assistant Chief Constable Pat Campbell said: "This strategy represents the next step forward in embedding a more co-ordinated approach to tackling this criminal activity across Scotland and making the country a hostile environment for criminals."
According to Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, the plan has not gone far enough.
She said: “Scams are taking place on an industrial scale but the government strategy – despite being a year and half in the making – isn’t providing enough solutions or a clear plan for how it will be delivered.
"Our research shows that two thirds of Scottish consumers are concerned about the security of the data they share online and more than half are worried about being targeted by scammers.
"If the Scottish Government is committed to protecting consumers, it needs to come up with a much more comprehensive plan and provide proper resources to ensure it can help save people from the devastating emotional and financial impact of scams.”