City of Lincoln Council welcomes Portfolio Holder for Reducing Inequality, Cllr Rosie Kirk, as the council’s new SCAMbassador to help raise awareness of scams and protect the city’s residents from falling victim.
A number of staff members have also been enrolled as SCAMchampions within the authority, which enables them to hold awareness sessions and provide training to recruit ‘Friends’ against scams.
Cllr Rosie Kirk said: “I am pleased to represent the council as a SCAMbassador for such an important initiative which I hope will empower our residents to take a stand against scams.
“Scams can happen anywhere – at home, work, online or even at your front door, so it’s important that as many people within the organisation are made aware of what to look out for in a scam or a potential victim.
“Sadly, scams are prevalent in the UK and local authorities are often targeted.
“Recently, on a national basis we have heard of cases where fraudsters offer loans to victims and make illegal claims for Universal Credit using their details unknowingly to request a payment advancement. The scammers use this payment as the loan to the victim and request a hefty fee for the privilege, leaving the victim to pay for that as well as the Universal Credit payout.
“By training the council’s staff, we will not only be able to reach out to our customers, but to our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues as well. The more people that know about scams and what to look out for, the bigger difference we can make.”
Graham Metcalfe, Partnership Manager for Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “We’re encouraging people to listen to their instincts. If someone offers you a low cost loan from the government, they may be trying to steal your identity as the advances available via Universal Credit are all totally interest free and should only be arranged directly with DWP and never through a third party.
“Treat your personal information for benefits in the same way you would for your bank and if you think you’ve been targeted, we urge you to report it urgently.
“DWP staff will never approach you on social media or on the street to discuss your benefit claim, so don’t give out personal or financial information to people who you aren’t certain work for us.
“If you have concerns about your benefits, you should contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.”
Identity fraud is a serious crime and anyone who believes they have been targeted by fraudsters should get in touch with Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at: www.actionfraud.police.uk
City of Lincoln Council signed the pledge to become a Friends Against Scams organisation in April 2019. For more information about the initiative, visit: www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk