View from the Assembly by Jane Hutt AM

THIS May, I have been supporting Scams Awareness Month 2014.

The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers posed to vulnerable older people by criminals who try to get into their homes via the mail, telephone, internet or on the doorstep.

It is an opportunity for consumers and campaigners to learn and share, then take that knowledge into the year- round fight against scams. It’s only through spotting the signs of scams and spreading the word as wide as possible that consumers can help to stop scams.

According to Age Cymru, at least £3.5 billion is lost to scammers every year and older people lose twice as much as younger people –some have even lost their life savings and their homes.

Age Cymru’s advice is that you will never get something for nothing. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you think something sounds a bit suspicious, take your time and don’t be pressured into quick decisions. For example, computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix your computers and any mail which claims you have won big amounts of money when you haven’t entered any competitions should be binned.

Younger people can help protect their grandparents from scams by asking them about phone calls they have had and looking at the kind of mail their older relatives have been receiving. If they see evidence that scammers have drawn an older person into their web they should seek help instantly. Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and Age Cymru can help.

If you feel you have been a victim of a scam report it. If you are at all worried you can also contact organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau and trading standards or visit http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Finally, June 9-15, is Carer’s Week-a week to highlight the vital contribution made by unpaid carers in our communities. There will be an Information road show on Tuesday, June 10, from 10am-1pm at the Hub on Gladstone Road. Come along to this free event if you would like to find out what help is available to unpaid carers in the Vale.

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