Documentary maker and actor Ross Kemp is encouraging people to talk about scams after recent research found that over half of those who have been defrauded did not tell family or friends.
A survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by Virgin Media O2 found that 23% of people had been scammed, and 41% know someone else who has been a victim of scamming. Over two-thirds of those who were defrauded lost an average of £393.
The star, who played Grant Mitchell in Eastenders, urged people to be vigilant, particularly at this time of year, when many are shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
Kemp has teamed up with Virgin Media O2 to remind people to report dodgy calls and texts by forwarding them to 7726 (which spells SPAM on phone keypads). Reporting scam texts and calls helps telecom companies to both block the mobile numbers used by fraudsters and prevent or shut down similar scams faster in future.
So far this year, Virgin Media O2 has blocked more than 78 million texts, in part due to reports to 7726.
The survey also revealed that nearly a third of people said they would find fraud more embarrassing to talk about than their reasons for visiting a doctor. This is despite 77% of respondents believing that having more open conversations can help people to stay safe.
Kemp said: “What this campaign is about is getting people to openly talk about if they have been scammed, and to converse with others about what to look out for, how to react to it.
“Ultimately, no one is infallible, you have to be on your guard, particularly at this time of year when people will be making numerous purchases online.
“By talking about anything, you begin to lessen the stigma attached to it. If one in three Brits would rather talk about going to the doctor with an issue than talk about the fact that they’ve been scammed, then that has to change.”
The rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence has helped scammers to become even more sophisticated, and Kemp advises: “Use your human awareness, your fight or flight. If you see something that doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t seem right, then do you know what? It’s probably not right.
“So don’t press on it, don’t click on it and certainly don’t give your one-time password over.”
Rob Orr, chief operations officer at Virgin Media O2 added: “We can all help by reporting dodgy messages and calls to 7726. By taking just a few seconds to forward them on, we can investigate and shut down frauds faster and further improve our blocking technology to stop future scams in their tracks.”