A member of South Yorkshire Police, Trading Standards and NatWest held an open meeting for people of S5 in Firth Vale Library to discuss cyber security and other methods criminals use to steal people’s money.

PC Simon Fysh of the Fir Vale Neighbourhood team said: “Even people my age in their 50s don’t really understand online security but there’s all the other stuff around it like the leafleting and the people coming to your house and telephone calls, it’s prevalent in any community.

“We normally end up seeing the victims from crimes like these, we deal with the incidents but we try and protect people as much as we can first.”

The ‘Friends against Scams’ campaign for community bankers and Trading Standards officers to hold regular drop in sessions is a nationwide initiative.

Tina Weston, Trading Standards enforcement officer, said: “The key to this is joint working, we can’t do this on our own. We work with the banks because they do have a duty to look at suspicious activity on their accounts.

The main advice given out is to never buy on the phone, not to give out personal details over the phone and be wary when dealing with text messages, emails and doorstop callers.

Tina Weston added: “We can assess the dangers a lot easier than someone who used to be a professional all their life but has suddenly become very ill with memory loss, dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“That can effect someone so drastically they may not be able to understand what they’re doing so it needs to be a community thing.

“Looking out for your neighbours, older people that you deal with, passing on information about new technology that maybe they don’t understand.

“One woman I know gave £40,000 to someone who called the landline to tell her that the bank was compromised and to not trust the staff because they were being investigated.”

But the bank realise it can take a person in a position of authority to get through to some members of the public.

Lizzie Wilson, a community banker at NatWest, said: “We work alongside the police to get the message out there because when it’s someone official saying it they listen instead of if it’s coming from a son or daughter.

“Someone will come up to me in a meeting and ask to take one of the leaflets for their family or neighbour which lets us know they’re having the conversation with people. Prevention is better than cure.”

A common method in Firth Vale currently is callers pretending to be from the Department of Work and Pensions asking to discuss universal credit applications and loans.

Drop in meetings for online security came to Fir Vale library on Thursday 5th December with a member of South Yorkshire Police, Trading Standards officer and a community banker in attendance. 

A community effort is being encouraged to ensure everyone understands how to stay safe from scams. 

Tina Weston, a Trading Standards enforcement officer, said: ““Look out for your neighbours, older people that you deal with, passing on information about new technology that maybe they don’t understand.”