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73/09 23 June 2009
Research conducted into the OFT Scams Awareness Month campaign in February has shown a rise in the proportion of consumers who are fairly or very knowledgeable about major scams.
The OFT campaign, run in partnership with Trading Standards Services, consumer groups, business organisations and charities, is part of ongoing efforts to increase awareness of mass-marketed scams, which cost the economy £3.5 billion every year.
Independent evaluation of the campaign found:
Partnership working saw 93 local authority Trading Standards Services agree to participate in 'Scamnesty' - an initiative that empowered the public to fight back against scams by dropping more than 6,000 scam mailings into designated 'Scamnesty' bins or boxes at local libraries and other public buildings across the country.
During Scams Awareness Month, the OFT and its partners highlighted health scams, online and email scams, scams affecting older consumers and those targeted at businesses. The campaign began with TV personality Angela Rippon launching 'Scamnesty'. She also starred in a new DVD showing how vulnerable groups in society including the elderly could be protected.
David Murphy, OFT Head of Marketing and Campaigns, said:
'Mass marketed scams can have damaging financial and psychological effects on individuals, families, businesses and the wider economy. This campaign, which has particular relevance in the current economic climate, has been successful due to the many committed partners who have recognised the need to work together. However, there is still much to do. Developing and widening these partnerships will be crucial in our continuing efforts to reach the audiences which scammers exploit.'
Download full evaluation (pdf 835 kb)
1. The OFT worked with a range of partners including Diabetes UK, Help the Aged/Age Concern, Sense About Science, the Trading Standards Institute, Get Safe Online, Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills).
2. The proportion of consumers who said they were very or fairly knowledgeable about work from home and/or business scams had increased by five percentage points to 54 per cent - an increase of some 10 per cent. Increases were also observed for miracle cures and/or slimming scams, up four percentage points to 52 per cent, an increase of eight per cent. Foreign money making and/or African advance fee scams were up four percentage points to 52 per cent, an increase of eight per cent and fake clairvoyant and/or psychic mailing scams were up 3 percentage points to 45 per cent, an increase of seven per cent.
3. Independent research included a GfK NOP UK telephone omnibus based on two waves (of a sample of 2000) in November 2008 and (a sample of 2003) in March. Media Evaluation was carried out by TNS Media Evaluation. Online evaluation was carried out by Access Digital.
4. Consumer Direct is the government-funded telephone and online service offering information and advice on consumer issues. Consumer Direct is funded by the Office of Fair Trading and delivered in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards Services.
5. The OFT and Serious Organised Crime Agency are leading on the development of a National Strategy for tackling mass marketed fraud, which includes developing more effective consumer awareness campaigns to help consumers recognise and resist mass marketed scams.
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