Advice & Guidance

Book Case

Scams – Beware they often target older people

If you believe you have been scammed and you have lost money you should contact your bank immediately.

Scams are criminal acts - a type of financial fraud - which can ruin lives

Financial losses are common, but being scammed can also seriously affect a person's quality of life and wellbeing.

Fraud affects people of all ages and backgrounds but older adults are especially vulnerable - the average age of a scam victim is 75. 

Some older people are especially at risk, either because perpetrators target them or because their circumstances make them vulnerable. For example, if they are bereaved, lonely or living with dementia. People in the early stages of dementia are particularly susceptible to various types of fraud and cyber crime.  Those who live alone, are more likely to report having been a victim of fraud.

Many people experience a deep sense of shame, embarrassment, anxiety and loss of independence following a scam. Some older people lose their life savings, decimating their retirement income.  Evidence indicates that those defrauded in their own homes are more likely either to die or go into residential care within a year.

Scams are big business

Fraudsters make their money on the back of vulnerability, social isolation, shame.  These criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations even the police.  They succeed when you let your guard down in the moment. 

More than two-fifths (43 per cent) of those over 65 years (equivalent to around 5 million older adults) believe they have been targeted by scammers at some point.

Scam victims may respond to scams because they are lonely and experience social isolation either because they are geographically isolated, because their family live far away or because they are living with a physical or mental health issue.

Scams vary  - impersonation scams are growing

Criminals use a variety of scams but they are all designed to make you reveal your personal details, steal your information or get you to make a payment.  

Scams can happen on doorsteps and in homes, by phone or text, by post, and online by weblinks, social media and email.

Whilst there is increasing awareness of scams sent by email and online romance fraud, older people are often targeted by pension and investment fraud as well as postal, phone and doorstep scams. 

Impersonation scams are increasing – they almost doubled in 2020 compared with 2019.  Commonly, criminals are sending scam text messages, phone calls, and emails impersonating trusted organisations such as the NHS, utilities, and banks.  

How to protect yourself and others

STOP – take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information

CHALLENGE – consider whether the request could be fake.  It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore a request and only a criminal will try to pressure you. 

PROTECT  - contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. 

Never judge someone who is a victim.  Fraudsters are experts in their game.  Many victims experience a deep sense of shame and embarrassment which can cause further suffering, escalating into anxiety and loss of independence. 

Further information

National Trading Standards are organised to tackle scams. Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams.  You can access online information and training and help to raise awareness in your community. 

Contact numbers to report a scam and get advice

Fraud is under reported - only 5% of scam crimes are reported.

If you have lost money you should contact your bank immediately.

To get advice and/or report a scam use these contact numbers:

England
Citizens Advice Consumer Service 0808 223 1133

Scotland
Citizens Advice Helpline 0800 028 1456

Wales
Citizens Advice Consumer Service 0800 223 1144

Northern Ireland
Consumerline 0300 123 6262

England
Action Fraud 0300 123 2040

Scotland
Advice Direct Scotland 0808 164 6000

Wales
Action Fraud 0300 123 2040

Northern Ireland
Action Fraud 0300 123 2040

HELP US TO DEVELOP OUR CONTENT

Did you find this information helpful?  Let us know what you  think or pass on some advice to other carents by emailing us at [email protected] 

April 2022

What our carents say

My father received a text message purporting to be NHS Test and Trace, including a link to a convincing looking NHS branded website

Alison

Please can you warn your members

View all Advice & Guidance