Welcomes and introductions
The Chair began by welcoming partners and briefly mentioned the purpose of the meeting, to build on the work of the previous partnership group and explore good practice within the scams landscape in order to consider how to better coordinate scams prevention interventions across the landscape, where appropriate.
Update on strategy developments
Scottish Government (SG) gave a quick update to partners on strategy developments to date, for those not members of the Data Working Group.
There is now clear consensus on a move towards a single point of contact model – the Data Working Group have endorsed Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) to take forward development of a draft high-level proposal for delivery of this model, to be presented for consideration by the Advisory Group. ADS will work with the Data Working Group to process-map the existing reporting mechanism in Scotland, to identify how the single point of contact model will introduce improvements. However, partners have also discussed the value of extending the model beyond just reporting of scams, to encompass a wider package of support to the individual (a “one stop shop” approach).
Partners were asked to consider what role the single point of contact could or should play in the sharing of good practice amongst stakeholders, how this could be coordinated behind the scenes and where would it add value to what everyone is currently doing at present.
Approach to sharing good practice: initial scoping
The Chair introduced the first discussion item by highlighting upfront that there already exists the sharing of good practice between partners; however, there is a need to consider ways to improve coordination, to ensure there are no gaps and information is joined together.
Examples of good practice shared already include: the Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) ScamShare Newsletter, Which? Scam Alert Service, Call Blockers, East Renfrewshire Financial Harm Toolkit, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland (NWS) Alerts, SCVO partnership, Cyber Bulletin and many more.
Comments from partners
Partners generally agreed that ADS as the single point of contact was a logical way forward. Some commented that it is important to consider the marketing of this model and how the service is promoted, including how local authority support that is already available to people can be integrated. CAS advised that having one single point of contact would be really helpful, but it needs to be clear to consumers how to access the correct support.
Contextualised by the notion of a single point of contact model, conversation regarding sharing good practice touched on a number of key areas for potential improvement, or opportunities to be further developed, including for example:
National advice and support scams prevention toolkit
East Renfrewshire Trading Standards’ Financial Harm Toolkit is aimed at families, friends and professionals who support older and vulnerable people in society, and gives comprehensive detail on a number of topics including, for example, Power of Attorney and cyber (online) scams prevention. Partners noted that the content related to cyber resilience could be further updated, particularly important given the rise in online scams.
Partners discussed the toolkit as something that could be nationalised for each Local Authority area as an effective resource. TSS indicated that they were already in conversation with East Renfrewshire Trading Standards to look at how the toolkit could become streamlined in this way, but with some changes to enable bespoke content to be provided for each local authority area, depending on what additional services they offer. This work was positively received by partners.
ADS suggested that converting the toolkit to an online interactive version, with drop down options to be selected to tailor what information is presented depending on the individual’s local authority area, could be one way to effectively nationalise it. Partners discussed the importance of being able to retain coordination of any updates, or edits made to local content in order to retain integrity of the main document.
It was highlighted that this type of intervention was ideal as it did not require significant financial investment to realise, but could introduce real consistency in the way in which people are able to access support across Scotland.
- SG to re-circulate the East Renfrewshire Financial Harm Toolkit to partners for awareness
Shared calendar of events
CAS have a lot of good information on their website and suggested that to improve coordination of work ongoing by partners, a shared calendar of events (campaigns), or a single agency, could play a role in disseminating scams information to the public in order to make them aware of emerging scams. SCVO supported the idea of a shared calendar of events.
A coordinated media plan could focus on both the expected and unexpected scams – i.e. a shared campaigns / media planner could allow partners to use trending scams information to promote key topics each month, but with built in flexibility to also allow for instant messaging informed by scams alert systems when appropriate.
Which? indicated that they invite their members to make them aware of any new scams through, for example, their Scam Alert Service – the information is then used to update content on their website.
- SG to circulate previously submitted paper from Which? that summarises the current package of scams prevention work they provide. This action is pending
Coordinated of call blockers
TrueCall have conducted research on the provision of call blockers, looking at the difference in access to these resources across local authority areas. They commented that a central agency could look after the provision of call blockers and disseminate to people based on their need, rather than whether or not their local authority had resources available to provide a call blocker.
TSS advised partners that they have been looking at such a model for the centralised provision of call blockers in Scotland – they advised that the operational functionality to do this exists. TSS already analyse data from call blockers that they report to Scottish Government – this information allows them to identify where the problems are and get prevention messages out to consumers.
The possibility of introducing some type of auto referral process between ADS – as the single point of contact body – and TSS for those requiring a call blocker, was also discussed.
Scams prevention stakeholder network
The idea of conducting future quarterly meetings between those partners currently involved in the Scams Prevention Strategy Advisory Group, in order to continue sharing good practice, was also raised by partners. Such meetings would be good in building upon discussions and partnerships under the Scams Prevention Strategy work stream, and would allow partners to continue regularly sharing information.
It was acknowledged that having one agency that all partners could access information from, and where good practice was collated, could ensure partners remain up-to-date on any new scams tactics or prevention activities. This could be further facilitated through a shared, or joint website or online platform that all partners had access to.
In addition to these key topics, conversation also covered a number of points that highlighted the inter-relatedness of the scams prevention work.
Partners were asked to think about how the single point of contact model could encourage people to report low-level scams, and how such information could be quickly disseminated across stakeholders to maximise reach of messages in response to live issues. ADS proposed that some type of triaging or emergency reporting alert system via SMS text messages could be worth exploring.
The practice of collating and disseminating recent scams is already underway through, for example, the TSS ScamShare newsletter, which seeks to raise awareness of new and emerging scams informed by up-to-date information from a variety of sources. It was recognised that Covid had brought about more networking and it is important that this continues. During the pandemic, the NWS Alert system has come into its own as aside from scams, the system has been used for other support, such as health. Getting these messages out relies on the willingness of partners to help.
The single point of contact is a good way forward but the messaging to the end user needs to be clear and feedback will be of significant importance. At present there may be a perception that people don’t get feedback on the success of a report, so this needs to be improved. It is important for people to get an outcome on what has actually happened as a result of them reporting the incident, and this could then be used to build case studies which are really powerful and could play an effective role in any media campaign.
CAS highlighted that there could be opportunities to embed more education and skills capacity building into scams awareness campaigns, in order that people are able to self-protect against scams. People need to be able to spot a scam, and know how to report them. Partners recognised that this skills based approach to scams prevention could be included within any national toolkit that is developed through a review of East Renfrewshire Trading Standard’s Financial Harm Toolkit.
For example, there could be a learning materials section, with an online mechanism, allowing for a more holistic tool. It could also be supplemented with videos, also linking in with scam alerts – TSS suggested the development of “mirror images of adverts” that take an individual through how to recognise a scam advert according to key tell-tale signs. This is about introducing simple, practical steps that people can take themselves, such as using a checklist to reduce their risk of becoming a victim of scams – the checklist could include endorsement of items such as cold call stickers, call blockers, and Telephone Preference Service.
Mapping the scams prevention stakeholder landscape
Discussion moved onto the value, purpose and process of mapping the current scams prevention landscape, with scope including, for example: who is involved, what signposting is in place, what the levers of change are, who takes enforcement action. The key focus would be on clarifying roles and responsibilities of partners.
CAS indicated that having an idea of what everyone does is helpful – partners must understand each other first in order to be able to effectively identify and utilise assets, resources and levers of change. ADS agreed and suggested it was not only crucial to know what everyone does, but also what information each has access to in order to strengthen the coordinated scams prevention network. It is important to know what other partners do for the single point of contact to work effectively. TSS further commented that a mapping exercise could also help establish where key scams prevention work should sit between different organisation. For example, TSS play a role in intelligence gathering and enforcement, and this could help to streamline the end journey.
From discussions there was a clear consensus on the value of a mapping exercise. There is a need for the strategy to show where improvements have been made within the existing landscape – mapping can help both inform this and illustrate the changes introduced.
- SG will circulate to partners a draft mapping exercise scoping document for comments, and will take forwards procurement as appropriate
- SG - to re-circulate the East Renfrewshire Financial Harm Toolkit to partners for awareness
- SG - SG to circulate previously submitted paper from Which? that summarises the current package of scams prevention work they provide. This action is pending
- SG - circulate plans for procuring a mapping exercise for comments and feedback
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