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'Scams can have a devestating effect on older individuals'

Published on 03 February 2022 02:41 PM

Services manager Jenny Jean-Charles on Age UK Barnet’s new Scams Prevention and Victim Support Service

We hope our scams prevention and support programme will make a real difference to Barnet’s over 50s. Sophisticated scams have been on the rise during the pandemic with criminals devising even more ways to target those they believe to be vulnerable.

In December, for instance, some 215 people in Barnet reported a scam, with a total loss to victims of nearly £840,000! 

And although any of us can fall victim to a scam, older people can be particularly vulnerable. Being a victim of a scam can have a serious impact on quality of life and wellbeing and can often be devastating emotionally as well as financially.

We aim to prevent older people from falling for scams by increasing knowledge and confidence to recognise and deal with attempted scams. We will also provide one to one support to older scams victims recovering after an incident.

During the pandemic fraudsters have capitalised on changing covid situations. Scams that have particularly risen include door step scams, which often target older people, and email, phone and online scams. Older people are often targeted by pension and investment fraud too.

A recent study by Ofcom found 82 per cent of adults had received a suspicious message last summer, with most reporting that it had come via a text.

It also found that landline calls continued to be a threat for older people, with 61 per cent of over-75s saying they had received a potential scam call.

Texts and emails purporting to be from courier firms and messages offering access to Covid vaccines and passports have been among the tricks used by criminals to get hold of personal details.

These scams can have a devastating effect on older victims, some of whom may be living with dementia. People we’ve supported have experienced a deep sense of shame, embarrassment, anxiety and loss of independence following a scam. A few have felt so ashamed they can’t even bear to tell members of their own family, let alone go to the police.

It’s upsetting to hear about people losing their life savings and decimating their retirement income, especially when you consider that people defrauded in their own homes are more likely either to die or go into residential care within a year.

This is a serious issue and our service is there to support people who have fallen for a scam and help them to regain the confidence to safely go about their normal activities again. We urge you to get in touch if you do get scammed – we can make it less likely it will happen again and your experience can help others. Even if you spotted the potential scam before falling for it, do let us know. We can help spread the word.

As well as one to one support, we’ve got lots of resources and a list of all the latest scams on our website. We’ll also be holding regular talks around the borough too – so get in touch if your community group would like to host one.

We urge people to be vigilant and remember, don’t feel ashamed if you’ve been a victim of a scam – you’re not alone. It’s also important to note that a genuine caller will not pressure you and that you should always say ‘no’ to cold callers on your doorstep or on your phone.

If there is any doubt about the authenticity of an offer or piece of correspondence, do not respond and report it to the authorities immediately.

Age UK Barnet is here to give you the tools to stay safe.

Age UK Barnet’s Scams Prevention and Victim Support Service offers support and advice to all Barnet residents over the age of 50. Please email  or telephone 0208 432 2217 and mention that your query is about scams.

Click here for our scams page.

Click here for the latest scams.