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Age UK successfully campaigns for older victims of APP scams

Fighting fraud

John Kamoto, Policy and Research Officer for Age UK, discusses the steps being taken to help older people stay safe from scams.



Fraud is on the rise, with criminal methods more sophisticated than ever. So, what is being done to protect older people from scammers, and are those measures enough?

The impact of scams

Each year, around 1 in 12 (940,000) older people falls victim to a scam. That figure is likely much larger, as many don’t realise they have been defrauded or don’t report it. The cost of living crisis has made older people even more at risk, as criminals take advantage with money-making ideas or 'too good to be true' offers many wouldn’t normally consider in order to afford bills.

Victims can lose their life savings in a matter of seconds, suffering catastrophic, life-changing losses. But whether older people are conned out of a few hundred pounds or many thousands, the impact of scams can go well beyond affecting someone’s finances. These crimes often have a devastating effect on someone’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing too.

What is Authorised Push Payment (APP) Fraud?

One of the most common types of fraud is Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud. This is when scammers trick you into transferring money from your account to an account under their control. The scammer usually pretends to be from a bank, working for the police, or a medical or government body. They may even claim to be a trusted family member and try to pressure you to act quickly. 

The latest fraud figures published by UK Finance in October 2022 show that the value of APP scam losses for the first half of the year was £249m.

Avoiding scams

Anyone can fall victim to a scam, and the impact can be very distressing. Read our guide to learn the steps you can take to avoid being caught out.

Find out more

What is Age UK doing to tackle APP scams?

Because of the steep increase in APP scams since the pandemic and their impact – both financial and emotional – Age UK has persuaded the Government to pass legislation that makes it compulsory for banks to reimburse victims of APP fraud. The Payments Systems Regulator, which is responsible for making this work in practice, is set to introduce new measures to address the problem.

Age UK has successfully campaigned for mandatory reimbursement for older people that have been scammed via APP. We are also happy to see the regulator finalising the technical process for collecting scam data, which will show, for the first time, how well firms are protecting customers.

This is a significant step in the right direction as before now, banks have often blamed the victim, despite the scams being perpetrated by organised criminals who are adept with technology and employing psychological manipulation.

Therefore, the Payment Systems Regulator’s intention to impose new regulations on payment providers is very welcome. Still, we continue to urge all banks, building societies and other payment providers to do more to prevent APP scams from occurring. Furthermore, to reduce exposure and be fully prepared for implementing these regulations, we encourage firms to demonstrate their good intentions by investing in the latest fraud detection technologies, developing policies and procedures for protecting their customers, and supporting customers who have fallen victim to fraud.

Age UK is collaborating with UK Finance, the collective voice for the banking and finance industry, on their Take Five to Stop Fraud public awareness campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help older people protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.

We will continue to work proactively with the Government, police, regulators, industry bodies, payment service providers, the community, and the voluntary sector to shut down the scammers and reduce the broader risk of fraud.

How to keep yourself safe?

To help older people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:

STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Pushing for change

By working together with our campaign community, we're determined to make the UK a better place to grow older. Learn more about our latest campaigns by signing up to our newsletter.

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Last updated: Feb 22 2023

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