What is it?
The Spot the Scams game, created by the advice charity Citizens Advice with Citizens Advice Scotland and the Trading Standards Institute, is an online quiz featuring scamming scenarios, such as fake lotteries and scammers calling for card details. The player has to identify all the clues that give away the fact that the scenarios involve scammers. By pointing out things like the fact that the contact email address of the Spanish Lottery Corporation is hosted by hotmail, or by noticing spelling mistakes in official documents, Citizens Advice helps to identify tricks used by scammers. When the clue is found, the website gives a short explanation. At the end of the quiz it is possible to share your results on various social media websites. The game has been played by over 6,000 people so far.
May is the Citizens Advice Scams Awareness Month. The charity designed the quiz to make people familiar with the methods used by scammers and give them the confidence and skills to identify scams. The charity has reported that there were were 25 per cent more fraud offences in 2013 then in 2012, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud. Six thousand people reported investment scams in 2013, and they cost the victims an average of £3,000 per scam. Phone scams seem to be the most common, constituting more than a third of all reported scams in the last year.
"Scammers are picking the pockets of millions of innocent people," says Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "Pensioners and hard-up households face invasion through their computers, phones, letterboxes, and on the doorstep."
Scams Awareness Month is divided into four weeks, dealing with different types of scam: online scams, mail scams, telephone scams and doorstep scams.
Citizens Advice has also teamed up with the popular website Buzzfeed and created two posts about scamming, playfully helping people to identify and avoid scammers. One post shows 7 Things Scammers Do To Fool You (With Animal Gifs), showing images of mischievous animals and how they symbolise what scammers do to catch you off guard. The other post is called 11 Ways To Say No To Scammers, which shows funny gifs of people saying "no". More information on how to avoid falling victim to a scam can be found on the charity's website.
Third Sector Verdict
The Spot the Scam quiz is a simple but effective way to open people's eyes to scams and familiarise them with typical scenarios, but it would be great if you could see the clues you missed afterwards. The Buzzfeed pages are very playful and work very well to draw attention to the cause. Both parts of the digital campaign are great gateways to the Citizens Advice’s website and the Scams Awareness Month report, Spot Scams! Stop Scams!,which provides useful information.