Age Cymru is speaking to Welsh Assembly Members today about ways to stop criminals from scamming older people.
We’re appearing before the Cross-Party Group on Older People and Ageing.
Our campaigns co-ordinator Gerry Keighley says:
“The Office of Fair Trading estimates that 95% of scams go unreported.
“2,500 scams were reported in Wales last year, but this figure could be much higher, with as many as 50,000 potentially having been committed.
“Age Cymru’s ’Scams and swindles’ campaign is calling for more protection for older people from criminals who ruthlessly steal from them through a variety of scams and swindles.
“Scammers use four basic methods to target older people - online scams; telephone scams; postal scams; and doorstep scams.
“It’s time for a new approach to tackling scams and we want companies used by the scammers – including postal companies, internet service providers and telephony companies, to provide more protection for their customers.
“We also want more No Cold Calling Zones set up across Wales.”
The Cross-Party Group on Older People and Ageing is chaired by Mike Hedges AM, who says:
“With recent figures from the National Fraud Authority showing the total lost to individuals from fraud and scams is more than £6bn a year it’s unsurprising that this is one illegal industry that’s on the rise.
“What’s especially upsetting to note is that there’s one community in particularly that’s being targeted by fraudsters and criminals – older people.
“Such crimes have a devastating impact on so many older adults each year and can leave them in a very vulnerable and helpless position.
“This month’s Cross-Party Group meeting aims to discuss the type of scams out there targeting the older community in Wales, as well as highlight the preventative measures older people, along with their families, can take to stop them from falling victim to such sordid scams.”
Andrew Bertie is head of Scambusters Wales and he will also be giving evidence to the group about scammers and scams and how they affect older people.
Shirley Whitman is a 78-year-old widow who lives in Cardiff.
For the last five years, she has been receiving two to three letters a week about cash prizes and prize draws.
“One letter I recently received says ‘Mrs Whitman, you’ve finally won £20,500!’, ‘Payment of £20,500 in your name’, ‘Mrs Whitman, this is the best day of your life! You are the one and only Lucky Winning Beneficiary of the Big Bank Cheque for £20,500’.
“When you actually open the letter there’s small print inside that explains this is actually a draw and that you have to buy something from the catalogue that comes with the letter in order to enter the prize draw.
“This is not immediately obvious because of the way the information is presented on the envelope and I that find objectionable – it could be quite misleading for some people.
“I was brought up to think ‘If it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true’ – you don’t get anything for nothing, so I have never been tempted to respond to one of these letters, but I know that some people do because they don’t read the small print and automatically assume they are going to win £10,000.”