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Older people – the most common victims of scams

Published on 26 August 2010 03:00 PM

Age UK warns of holiday scams as Bank Holiday weekend approaches

August is the peak time for holidays with an estimated 1.8 million people leaving the UK over the coming August bank holiday weekend (27-30 August 2010) [1]. But trips away can take a sinister turn as they open up opportunities for the scamming industry and older people are often prime targets.

Research has found that people in later life are not only more open to scams but lose nearly twice as much money than younger people (£1,261 per scam compared to £684) [2].

One of the most lucrative cons is the bogus holiday club. Have you ever been told that you have won a free holiday and all you have to do is claim it? This type of scam costs Britons an estimated £1.17 billion a year [3], because to claim your holiday you are generally required to attend a talk where you are put under huge pressure using an array of psychological tricks. People are conned in to investing in a fake holiday club scheme, which seems to be a safe prospect.

Older people are often particularly vulnerable to this type of rip-off with research revealing that 38% of 65+ year olds feel unconfident that they could spot a fake ‘competition win' scam of this nature [4].

Other scams and sharp practices that are rife during the holiday season include the airport taxi driver who takes you on an round about trip to your hotel (get a few quotes in advance or have a map to hand); the credit card fraudsters who whisk your card away and copy it while you are paying (never let your card out of your sight) or the fake speeding or parking ticket (never pay on the spot fines).

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, commented: 'The evidence shows that older people are more regularly taken in by scams, although many are too embarrassed to report that they have been a victim. We at Age UK want to give these people somewhere to turn when they feel they are being tricked or conned whether on holiday or in their own home.

'If you are worried about being scammed you should contact your local Age UK or Age Concern, or call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65 for information and advice."

Age UK has produced a free brochure called ‘Protect Yourself From Scams'. It warns of the most common scams and gives practical steps to ensure older people are not taken in by the cheats.

For more in-depth measures on avoiding the most common causes of fraud and rip-offs, the consumer rights champion and journalist Tony Levene has written a no-nonsense guide for Age UK called ‘How To Avoid Scams' which retails at £9.99.

The free brochure can be downloaded and the book can be ordered at on our website or from the Age UK freephone helpline 0800 169 65 65.

- ENDS -

For details on any of the above please contact:
Annabel Alford/Vanessa Green
Wigwam PR
Tel: 01483 203330
Mob: 07768 393 353

Out-of-hours, call the Age UK Senior Media Officer on 07071 243 243

Notes to editors

  1. Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. The Age UK family includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI.
  2. Age UK is inspired by the belief that it can improve the lives of people in later life. It celebrates ageing and believes it presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges at home and abroad. Age UK will challenge ageist prejudice in society, provide services that address market failures and support the public and private sectors to design age-friendly products and services. It will support people to remain in their own homes through campaigning and practical services and its Information and Advice service will offer millions of people support on a range of issues from claiming benefits to staying fit and healthy.
  3. Age UK will fund biomedical research that helps tackle the ill health and poor quality of life that are too common as people age. Working with over 350 partners across the country, Age UK helps influence local decisions and delivers the most appropriate services. Its network of over 500 shops will act as a focal point for the local community, providing information and help with local services. Age UK works across the globe as well as in the UK, with its international partner, Help Age International, championing older people's rights and needs and as an active member of the DEC.


  1. Research by ABTA, August 2010
  2. Research on impact of mass marketing scams: The figures given are for persons aged 55+ compared to those under 55. A summary of research into the impact of scams on UK consumers (December 2006). This research, commissioned by the Office of Fair Trading, was carried out by Carol Goldstone Associates, together with GfK NOP. This work included initial interviews with more than 11,200 people and 1,900 detailed follow-up interviews with people who reported that they had been a victim of a scam, or knew someone who had been a victim, or had been a target of a scam. To obtain a copy, visit
  3. Research from Office Of Fair Trading figures (OFT 2006 research on impact of mass marketed scams)
  4. Research on behalf of Help the Aged by ICM Research Aug 2008

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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