July is Scams Awareness Month and North Ayrshire Citizens Advice Service is delivering the campaign locally, fighting back against scammers.

The Citizens Advice Scotland annual campaign brings together organisations and consumers across the country, to take a united stand against scams and fraud which affect millions of people each year.

£10.9billion is the estimated amount lost each year to scams and fraud, that’s a staggering amount of money that we can’t afford to lose.

Scams often result in losing large sums of money. The most common scams include: Phone scams, Ticket Scams, Property Fraud, Text Scams, Financial Abuse, Postal Fraud and ‘Card not present’ fraud.

We even know about unscrupulous individuals telephoning people, claiming to be us! I’d like to officially state that a Citizens Advice Bureau will never cold-call you, offering to manage your debts, so please be vigilant about this scam.

And scammers out there don’t discriminate. People from all walks of life can be scammed, whether you’re 18 or 80. The largest group currently targeted by scammers is aged 41-60, however there has been a sharp rise in the number of young people (aged 18-24) who have been scammed, and they are among the least likely to report it.

It’s important for all of us to become more vigilant, spread the word and seek advice regarding any scams that you have come across, even if it’s on behalf of someone else.

Here are our top 5 tips to become ‘fraud smart’

1: Staying Alert: When someone you don’t know calls you, be alert as it could be the start of a scam.

2: Unknown Company: If you’re in doubt, call the company back on a phone number listed on its website, or the number shown on your bill or statement

3: Missed Calls: If you receive a missed call from a number you don’t know, check it out before calling back. It may be a premium rate number

4: Unknown Texts: If you receive a text from unknown number, or just not sure who it is. Avoid texting back as it can cost you a packet and they won’t stop sending more.

5: Tax Man: If you receive calls from the tax man saying your due a tax rebate, and they need your bank details, hang up immediately. Scammers just want your bank details.

We’re asking people to help us tackle scams in North Ayrshire by getting to know the common signs, warning others and reporting incidents so we can help. If you feel you have been a victim, or if you would like to report any suspicious activities then please contact the team at North Ayrshire Citizens Advice Service, for FREE, confidential advice on 01294 467848, or visit our office on Vernon Street, Saltcoats. It’s important that we all report scams in order to protect ourselves and others. We will help you directly or point you in the right direction. Find out more about scam awareness on our website www.nacasadvice.org.uk and follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #scamaware