Salvation Army urges public to be on their guard against scammers

The Salvation Army is working with Sussex Police to prevent more vulnerable people falling victim to financial scams.

The Church is concerned that older people who are less familiar with the internet are at particular risk of being targeted by scammers.

It has been supporting Sussex Police in its countywide Operation Signature, which aims to identify victims of fraud and provide support to them. 

The Salvation Army has been moved to do more to raise awareness of the problem after over half of the adults surveyed as part of Operation Signature revealed they had been targeted. 

According to Sussex Police, one in five people are targeted by scammers each year - figures The Salvation Army said were "shocking". 

In response to the threat posed by scammers, The Salvation Army is launching new resources to help its churches and community centres across the UK provide support and advice to the people who use their services. 

The Salvation Army hopes that the resources will equip vulnerable members of the community coming to its lunch clubs, debt advice services and other groups in spotting financial scams. 

Gail Millar, The Salvation Army's Regional Specialist who works with older people, said raising awareness was key to tackling fraud.

"We have spoken to many victims of fraud who were enticed by a special offer that turned out to be too good to be true," she said.

"A scam can take many forms and victims can be targeted through a number of avenues, through the post, over the phone, on your doorstep and increasingly online.

"It's important that the public is aware of the many different methods fraudsters will use to pull off a scam. By being vigilant there are ways you can protect yourself from fraud criminals and we hope our resources will help people do this."

The awareness raising campaign is being spearheaded by The Salvation Army's Older People's Ministries team, led by Andrew Wileman. 

He warned that although older people were more susceptible to scams, anyone could be targeted.

"Most of us will know somebody who has been the victim of a scam but we find that people are often ashamed to admit this and only five per cent of victims actually report the crime," he said.

"Our team has seen on a number of occasions the stress and anxiety this has caused at our front-line services. We believe that this is a very real issue that allows us to minister with both spiritual and practical concern to the many people who are victims to scams and fraud.

"Whilst older people may be more susceptible to this crime we recognise that anyone can be targeted by fraudsters and we hope we can give people the information they need to take action and help stop more people falling victim."

If you are concerned about fraud, visit or call them on 0300 123 2040 for more information.  If you are worried you may have fallen victim to a scam, call your local police on 101.