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Helping parishes to prevent scams

A range of resources to help parishes to prevent scams is now available on the Church of Ireland website at www.ireland.anglican.org/scamwiseni

The four main Churches are supporting the Scamwise NI campaign, which highlights how to spot scams and encourages people who have become victims of scams to seek assistance.

The Scamwise NI campaign relates to Northern Ireland but, as many scams cross borders, members of the Church who are living in the Republic may also find this advice helpful.  While there is no public campaign on this issue in the Republic at present, An Garda Síochána has provided a listing of local crime prevention officers who will be able to assist with this and other policing matters.  The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau also provides guidance on preventing and tackling fraud.

Clergy and parishioners living in Northern Ireland can take part in one or more of the following ways:

– Showing the Scamwise NI PowerPoint slide as part of the church announcements before, during or after a service; 

– Sharing Scamwise NI leaflets with relevant groups (copies are available online here or by contacting the Church of Ireland Press Office on 028 9082 8880);

– Learning about the different types of scams by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or liking and following the Scamwise NI Facebook page (scammers can work by phone, by post, and online, or as cold callers on the doorstep);

– Asking for assistance at their local Post Office – staff can then advise anyone who has received a suspicious request if they think that the request is unusual or if it is a scam that they have come across before; and

– Talking openly about the risks of scams and encouraging people who may have been scammed to contact the police.

The latest leaflet from Scamwise NI includes advice on information that will never be sought by a range of organisations which scammers will claim to represent.

Speaking after a PSNI presentation on Scamwise at Connor Diocesan Synod, Archdeacon of Belfast George Davison said: “We are very grateful to Chief Superintendent Walls for introducing Scamwise NI to us this afternoon. Being aware of how scammers work, and helping others understand the dangers, must surely be part of our Christian care for one another in our parishes and communities.”

All of the resources provided for parishes outline a four–point ‘scam test’ which anyone can use if a cold caller gets in touch:

Seems to be good to be true

Contacted out of the blue

Asked for personal details

Money requested

Scams target people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels, and can have a devastating impact on those affected and their families.  Indeed, a financial loss is often accompanied by deep embarrassment; the police are always keen to encourage victims to come forward and get the support that they need which can help to overcome that sense of shame.

Remember – if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but if you can spot a scam, you’ve got the power to stop it.