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Avon & Somerset launch initiatives to protect those vulnerable to fraud

Image shows a man on the phone and the text it's OK to say no
Say no to phone fraudsters

Avon & Somerset Police have two new initiatives in place to fight against fraud against older and vulnerable people. New banking protocols and Op Signature will help protect those most vulnerable to fraud.op signature logo

Kirstie Cogram from the Financial Investigation & Economic Crime Team said:

“Op Signature and Banking Protocols are 2 significant steps in our continued work to protect those most vulnerable to the long lasting and severe consequences of being a victim of fraud. We are working with partner agencies and financial institutions to provide them with the tools to identify and report potential victims of fraud before the transaction completes.

We are also raising awareness amongst professionals and volunteers who visit the homes of the elderly and vulnerable to look out for signs of fraud and to report their concerns to the police.”

Operation Signature is a new reporting and recording process, now being used by Avon & Somerset Police to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud. Those most vulnerable to fraud will be identified at the earliest opportunity and those requiring additional support are referred to suitable partner agencies.

The Banking protocol in Avon and Somerset went live at the start of the month. This multi-agency initiative between the police, banks, building societies, The Post Office, Trading Standards and Age UK ensures staff are trained to identify fraud. Staff are encouraged to identify vulnerable victims of fraud and report their concerns directly to the police, by quoting “banking protocols” the police will give the appropriate response.

For those identified as requiring ongoing support visits are made to branches where a vulnerable customer has been subject of fraud to implement future safeguarding measures.

All FFA UK Member banks (Members make up the majority market share of UK retail banks) have signed up to this initiative and it is being rolled out across the country. In London, the banking protocol has already exceeded expectations with £750,000 of prevention and 12 arrests in the London area in the first 12 weeks of it being introduced.

What can you do to prevent fraud?

Fraud can take many forms and any of us could be victims but it is increasingly clear that older people are at special risk to certain types of scam. They are targeted for various reasons but many are due to personal circumstances such as loneliness, cognitive impairment, money problems and bereavement.

Fraud is often hidden and underreported, because either the victim does not realise they have been a victim or they are too ashamed to admit it. This can result in extensive losses as those most vulnerable tend to be repeat victims of fraud.

DS Marc Milliner said: “If you have an elderly relative or neighbour it may be worth checking in on them. Have the conversation about checking with you or someone they trust before doing anything with regards to their personal details or money. We would urge people to look out for signs of a scam and report it as soon as possible

“Scammers are devious and prey on the vulnerable to commit fraud. It’s vital that we get the message across to older people that if approached on the doorstep, by mail, online or over the phone then it’s ok to say no. Never feel pressured, allow yourself time to think. If they really are who they say they are then they will be happy to wait to be checked out.

“Its important people know that the police or banks or even fraud investigators will never ask you to transfer your money, buy high value goods or hand over cards or money. Please never give out your personal banking details, these will never be asked for by the police or banks.”

Remember, it’s ok to say no

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