National Trading Standards

The National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTS Scams Team) was set up in 2012 to help “silent victims”, particularly those vulnerable to postal fraud, by tackling mass marketing scams and disrupting the operations of perpetrators behind mail scams. The NTS Scams Team calculates that the detriment caused by scams is between £5 and £10 billion. The NTS Scams Team has encouraged 176 local authorities to recognise the importance and take on extra work to support scam victims. The team also provides guidance, best practice, and establishes a centre of excellence to assist local authorities in supporting local victims and taking local enforcement action. In working with over 35 national partners to identify and support victims, the NTS Scams Team have identified over 200,000 potential victims and obtained 13 “victim lists”.

12 July 2016
Care, Education Sector, Local Authorities, Research Sector, Finance, Other

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

As a non-public facing body NTS Scams Team rarely deals directly with people with dementia and their carers. However our aims of identifying victims of scams and intervening to protect victims from further victimisation covers those with dementia and their carers. Scams are often targeted at vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers, who are tend to be socially isolated and susceptible to repeated victimisation.

By educating the public we can prevent people falling victim to scams and maintain their independence for longer. In addition to educating potential victims about scams we educate those who work with people about how to identify when someone has been a victim of a scam and how to prevent them becoming a victim.

We are able to offer empowerment and assertiveness training though our partner organisations to victims and potential victims.

We also run projects with local authorities and partner organisations to aid potential victims such as installing call blockers (that stop scammers from contacting the victims via telephone), setting up befriending services or running group education sessions about scams. 

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Often the plight of scam victims only comes to the attention of the authorities when the victims dies, has exhausted their life savings or when an individual in their life becomes aware of the problem. Victims themselves do not usually realise that they have been ‘taken in’ by scammers. This makes identification of victims and potential victims very difficult.

Ensuring that the correct language is used by us and partner organisations to ensure victims do not feel patronised or ridiculed for falling for scams is essential. Making victims feel foolish can impact negatively on their self-confidence, their physical and mental health, as well as their independence.

We can only refer scam victims to local Trading Standards and associate services (e.g. adult social care) if the local authority has agreed to work with us. Currently there are 25 (out of 200) local authorities that are not working with NTS Scams Team.

2. Actions

  • Education of communities

    We hope that by educating the wider community about the issue of scams and their impact on vulnerable people scam victims can be spotted earlier, reducing the financial and emotional impact scams can have on them. If scams become part of public discussion the stigma surrounding them will be lifted and people may be more willing to admit to being a victim.  

    It is also important to educate organisations that deal with victims directly. Knowing how to approach victims about this (currently) sensitive subject can make all the difference in helping them.


    2016 - Third Quarter Update

    New member July 2016

  • Engaging with partner organisations to provide better resources for local authorities

    Local authorities can feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that is needed to help and protect vulnerable people from scams. If we are able to build partnerships with other organisations that can help us in this work, for example befriending services or adult education groups, the strain is taken from the local authorities who do not always have the resources needed.

    Working together also means that we aren’t all doing the same work to achieve the same goals. We can utilise the skills and abilities of others and they can use ours working together to achieve mutual goals and outcomes faster and more thoroughly.

    Since the Care Act came into force in 2014 it has been the responsibility of all local authority departments to work together to protect those that are receiving or may receive. This includes scam victims.

    By working together we can take a stand against scams


    2016 - Third Quarter Update

    New member July 2016

  • Using the correct language about dementia

    It is very important to use the correct language about dementia to ensure our message about scams and how people can protect themselves and others from scams are understood correctly. We need our messages to remain positive and to encourage those living with dementia and their carers to recognise  scams and to know how to deal with them properly.


    2016 - Third Quarter Update

    New member July 2016