An estimated 282,000 pensioners in Wales believe they have been targeted by scammers, according to new research commissioned by Age Cymru.
Nearly half of the scamming attempts were carried out via telephone in so called vishing attacks, while a further quarter were carried out through internet communications, also known as phishing.
Sadly 58% of those scammed said they were too embarrassed to report the scam to an official body and either kept the attack to themselves or just told close family and friends.
Age Cymru’s deputy chief executive Victoria Lloyd said, “This research needs to act as a wake-up call to all levels of government and to private communication companies as it clearly shows that highly organised criminal gangs are now deliberately targeting older people in Wales.
“Scams can have a devastating effect on an older person because as well as losing money and lifelong savings, they can also lead to a loss of self-confidence and even their independence.
“It is sad to see that so many victims feel too embarrassed to report the crime. We need to reassure older victims so they do report the crime as it can happen to anyone. We would urge older people to seek help and support from a reputable organisation.
“The findings also strengthen our calls to place a duty of care on telephone and internet providers to reduce the volume of scams within their networks.”
The research has been published to coincide with Scams Awareness Month, organised by Citizen’s Advice and Trading Standards Services, which this week has a specific focus on scams and older people.
Top tips on avoiding scams
There are several ways in which criminals target older people with scams; at their door step, through junk mail, via the telephone or online.
Whichever method they use, it is important that older people learn about a few basic actions that they can take to protect themselves.
• Use door chains to keep door step scammers out of your home
• Don’t believe letters claiming you have won a lottery if you never entered it in the first place
• Hang up the telephone if you are suspicious about a call and remember that a bank will never ask for a PIN number
• Delete emails from unknown sources. Never open or reply to them.
• Get independent financial advice before agreeing to sign up to any financial arrangementIf you have been scammed or feel you are being scammed don’t be embarrassed as it can happen to anyone. Instead seek help and support from a reputable organisation such as Trading Standards, local Police Station or Citizen’s Advice.
For a free copy of Age UK’s Avoiding Scams – smart ways to protect yourself please call our free Information and Advice line on 08000 223 444.
Notes to editors:
• The research was undertaken by Kantar TNS research Express polling for Age UK and age Cymru during June and July 2017. A sample of 1,367 people aged 65+ in the UK.
• Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales.
• We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.
• We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people.
• Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436.
• Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284.
• Registered office address: 13/14 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ.
• Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our trading enterprises and the Welsh Government.