Scams and think jessica

Policy Brief

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Postal scams are a silent threat to many vulnerable and older adults across the UK. Scam mail is a terrible interference in people’s lives and there is no means of preventing the mail from reaching targeted households.  Those that perpetrate this crime often operate from outside the UK and cheat thousands of UK citizens out of their money.

The Think Jessica campaign is launching a national poster campaign on 1 October that TSI is supporting. The aim of the poster is to raise awareness of postal scams; advising people to think before sending money to claim fake prizes from bogus lotteries, competitions, catalogues and clairvoyants. The poster is designed to appeal to the families of victims/ potential victims and directly to victims themselves so that they recognise that what they are doing is responding to a scam. It is hoped that banks, building societies and post offices, which are directly involved in the process of the withdrawal of money for these scams, will support the campaign and display the poster.

We are encouraging all trading standards services to download and display the posters available from Citizens Advice Bureaux across the UK will be participating and Bromley Trading Standards is piloting the project in its local banks and building societies.

The arguments

Scam mail is sinister and manipulating and normally originates from overseas through criminals who send mail disguised with the Royal Mail stamp to give the impression it has come from the UK.

Pensioners are frequently befriended, tricked and threatened by criminals; those that are older, slightly confused and forgetful are targeted and become 'chronic' scam mail victims. After replying to a scam letter for the first time, the victim’s details are put on a 'suckers list' and sold to criminals all over the world. Between 30-100 scam letters can be received by a victim per day, where their details are on a suckers list.
Article 17 states that 'no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family or correspondence'. This generates some difficulty when dealing with postal scams. Scam mail is a terrible interference in the lives of many vulnerable people and the simple solution to prevent delivery of such mail is out of the question since Royal Mail has a duty to deliver private correspondence. 

With this being the case, it has to be tackled in a different way through education and responsiveness.

Our Aim:

To achieve awareness of postal scams  through the display of Think Jessica posters in banks and building societies across the UK and in the public domain, as a preventative measure to stop people falling into the trap of responding to scam mail.

What we are doing

Launching the Think Jessica National Poster Campaign with British Gas, Money Saving Expert, & the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Encouraging the display of posters and supporting Bromley Trading Standards pilot project in local banks and building societies.

Producing a training package about scams to identify how to help scam mail victims break the routine of responding to the often threatening mail.

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