Local charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is working in partnership with the Ulster Bank to inform people who attend their support groups of the prevalence of online scams. The charity has a network of support groups across Northern Ireland where individuals with chest, heart and stroke conditions meet regularly for support and guidance.
NICHS group coordinator Paul Carson explained why the charity had teamed up with Ulster Bank: “With the growing use of technology in our lives and October being recognised as Cyber Security Awareness Month, we feel that it was very relevant for our service users to learn about the dangers of online scams. As they are living with chest, heart and stroke illnesses, they may be seen as more vulnerable to these scammers.”
Scams are the fastest growing type of crime in the UK and every year more than three million people fall victim to scams which results in losses of hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds.
Ulster Bank is running the ‘Friends Against Scams’ programme, which has been delivered to Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) service users at its support group. To date, Ulster Bank has met service users in NICHS’s Olympia, Connswater, Royal Victoria Hospital and Lisburn Respiratory Support Groups, with plans to visit groups in Bangor and County Down. This comes after it was revealed that more than 50% of the population aged over 65 has been targeted by a scammer.
“The aim of the programme is simple – to reduce the number of people falling victim to criminal scams. Our programme empowers our communities to take a stand against scams raising awareness of the different types of scams and how they work, helping to protect our communities from falling victim to a scam.”
Richard Gill from Ulster Bank
It is estimated that only 5% of scam victims report the crime. Richard claims “This low percentage may be due to the stigma associated with being scammed. Some people can feel embarrassed. However, we encourage anyone who has been targeted or victimised to report the crime. This will help us prevent further scams.”
Margaret Coey, who attends NICHS’s Connswater support group, said “I now feel very much more informed of the dangers of online scams. This programme has given me the knowledge and confidence to be able to spot and report a scam.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam please get in touch with your banking society or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
If you are living with a chest, heart or stroke illness and would be interested in attending one of our support groups across Northern Ireland, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 9032 0184. Alternatively, you can request a callback here.