Over a third of Welsh adults have been targeted in scams during the covid crisis, it has been revealed.
Research by Citizens Advice Cymru showed that 36 per cent have been the target of a scam since it began, and that the most vulnerable groups and those who could least afford it in society were most likely to be targeted.
The organisation are urging people to be “scam aware” this Christmas, and it is being supported by the Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd, Rhun ap Iorwerth.
The research found that 45 per cent of those with a disability or long term illness said they’d been targeted by scammers, and 50 per cent of those at risk from coronavirus or who were shielding had been too.
The charity has seen calls from members of the public concerned about bogus testing kits, vaccinations, and government refunds. It has reported a 19 per cent rise in people coming to its website for scam advice.
Citizens Advice web pages relating to scams saw an average of 49,000 page views a month since lockdown began in March, compared to an average of 41,000 page views in the three months prior.
From this research, 64 per cent say they are worried someone they know will fall foul of a con, and 90 per cent of people reported they felt wary of scammers taking advantage of the situation.
Rebecca Woolley, Director of Citizens Advice Cymru said: “‘Stop, report, talk: Be #scamaware’ is our message to consumers this Christmas period. “This year protecting people against scams is more important than ever.
“The coronavirus crisis means more people are facing issues – from employment and debt to housing and health – resulting in more people being in vulnerable situations.
“Added to this, the overall heightened uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic is making everyone more vulnerable and more likely to fall victim to a scam.
“People can sometimes feel foolish or embarrassed reporting their experiences, but sadly this means perpetrators are getting away scot-free.
“In reality, all of us can have the bad luck of being targeted with a scam. We hope this Scams Awareness campaign will encourage people to share their stories and learn tips to stop scammers from running off with people’s money.”
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS for Ynys Môn said: “Christmas is usually a time for celebration. However, for some, scams can really ruin the festive season.
“This is why I’ve teamed up with Citizens Advice Cymru to encourage people not only to be vigilant about scams but, if they do come into contact with them, to report it and to warn others.
“If you’re unsure about a potential scam, always check.”
If you’re worried that you or someone you know has become victim to a scam, you can contact Citizens Advice’s consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 (Welsh language).