Protecting older people from scams and fraud

Protecting older people from scams and fraud

Author: Christine Farmery

According to analysis by Age UK, an older person in England and Wales becomes a victim of fraud every 40 seconds. Scams are common and scammers can be clever; anyone can be caught out and it can be worrying that your older loved ones could be a particularly vulnerable target for fraud. Knowing what to look for and taking some simple steps towards safeguarding yourself and older friends or relatives can provide protection from scams and fraud. And if you or someone you know is scammed, remember that you're not alone and there is plenty of support available.

Types of scam

Knowing what to look for and being aware of potential scams is a good start in fraud protection. Some of the most common types of scams to be mindful of, and to make your loved ones aware of, include.

  • Doorstep scams. Scammers may knock on the door pretending to sell things, offering to fix things on the house, or asking for help. If you’re not expecting them, don’t open the door; check their identity card and phone the company they claim to be from. If you feel unsafe, ask them to leave or contact friends, family, or the police.
  • Mail scams. Scams may be sent by post and can be addressed to you directly. Scam letters may be about investment schemes or unclaimed inheritance, contain fake claims that you’ve won money or prizes, or be from people asking for financial help. Never reply to mail that you think is a scam: ignore it and throw it away.
  • Phone scams. Unexpected calls on either a landline or mobile, or messages via text could be phone scams. Phone scams can include people pretending to be from your bank or the police asking you for your details, or unsolicited sales calls.
  • Email scams. Emails asking you to provide personal details – which may claim to be from your bank, or companies that you deal with regularly – should be treated very warily: genuine companies would never ask you to provide your personal details online. Find the legitimate number of the company the email claims to be from and call them to check and to report the scam. Never reply to scam emails and don’t open emails or attachments from someone you don’t know.

Protection against scams

As well as being aware of the types of scams, there are steps that can be taken to protect yourself or others from scams or fraud.

  • Put up a ‘no cold callers’ sign on the front door – your local council may be able to provide one.
  • Set up an identification and password scheme with utility providers to check that they are genuine when they visit.
  • Register with the free Mailing Preference Service to stop unsolicited mail.
  • Register with the free Telephone Preference Service to opt out of unsolicited calls.
  • Use an answerphone to screen calls or use caller ID to know who’s calling. If the phone enables it, block the calls from unknown numbers.
  • To report a spam text, forward the text for free to 7726.
  • Create strong passwords for any online accounts.
  • Make sure email accounts are set up to filter junk/spam mail.
  • Install anti-virus software on computers to protect from viruses.
  • Get more advice and information about online safety from Get Safe Online.

What to do if you’ve been scammed

If you think you’ve been scammed or suspect that a friend or relative has been a victim of a scam, there is plenty of support, and by reporting it, you could help prevent it from happening to someone else.

  • Tell your bank immediately if you notice a suspicious transaction from your bank account or credit card or if someone contacts you claiming to be from your bank.
  • Report the scam to the police.
  • Contact Action Fraud, the centre for reporting fraud and internet crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Use the online fraud reporting tool or call them to report a scam and get advice on 0300 123 2040.
  • Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
  • Speak to your local Age UK for advice if you’re concerned about an older person who has been affected by a scam either financially or emotionally.
  • If you’re concerned that a vulnerable adult has been affected by a scam you can also speak with the local council’s adult social services department.
  • Report doorstep scams to your local Trading Standards office.
  • Report scam mail to Royal Mail.
  • Check your household insurance to see if your policy covers the circumstances of the scam.

The Dower House

The Dower House is a nursing home in the Hampshire countryside near Winchester. We have been caring for older people and providing support to their families for over 30 years in an enjoyable and safe environment.

Whether you’d like to book a visit to find out more about The Dower House, or you simply need to talk and get some advice about caring for yourself or your loved one, we’re ready to listen and happy to help. Please contact us on 01962 882848.

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