Being scammed by criminals can have a devastating impact on an older person’s life and so we need to up the ante in tackling this growing menace. This is the call from Age Cymru at the start of scams awareness month.
The charity says 150,000 people in Wales are scammed each year and that older people get scammed for twice the amount of cash in comparison with younger people, averaging losses of £1,200 per scam.
It says many older people who have been scammed often feel too embarrassed to share their experiences and seek help. In extreme cases this can lead to the person losing their self-confidence, withdrawing from life, and even losing their independence.
The charity wants to raise public awareness of scams and the simple steps older people can take to help protect themselves. It is also wants public and private organisations such as mailing houses to do more to stop criminals from using their services to scam older people.
The charity is pressing for improved data collection on the scale of scamming in Wales and for better support for victims seeking justice and financial compensation.
The National Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Older People and Ageing recently held a debate on scams to help place the issue higher up the political agenda.
Chairing the session, Swansea East AM Mike Hedges said: “Far too many older people fall victims to scams either through electronic media, letter box mail, the telephone or via doorstep traders. It falls upon all of us to do everything we can to help older people avoid the painful experience of scamming.”
Top tips on avoiding scams
There are several ways in which criminals target older people with scams. They can be targeted 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 arrangement
• If 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.
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