Scamming claimed nearly 2.5 million victims in 2010
Published on 29 December 2010 12:30 AM
14.5 million* people in the UK believe they have been targeted with a scam in 2010, according to research by Age UK. Of those, nearly 2.5 million** people actually fell victim to a scam this year.
People in later life are generally regarded as being particularly vulnerable to cheats, with almost half of the over 60s questioned saying they have been targeted. But the research, conducted among 4,732 respondents from across the UK, found that all age groups are equally at risk and that men are as likely to be conned as women.
However, one of the cons that costs people the most is holiday clubs or time share investments, and the survey found that older people are most likely to be victims of this type of fraud - with 17% of time share scam victims aged between 70 and 79 years old.
The research revealed that almost three quarters of scam victims lost money, with those in the youngest (16 - 24 year olds) and oldest age groups (80 - 89 year olds) being most likely to be swindled. Whilst most people lost under £100, an unfortunate 16% were cheated out of more than £500.
Interestingly, Age UK's study also found that once people have been scammed they are unlikely to tell anyone about it. Only 8% of victims went to the police and only 9% went to organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. Surprisingly, 72% didn't even share their story with friends or family.
According to the findings, there is still an element of embarrassment linked to being scammed. 5% of respondents said that they would be more likely to admit to a speeding offence than to being conned and 1% would even prefer to admit to occasional drink driving.
Age UK's survey also found that the most common type of deception which people fell for was online fraud, with 34% of scams being perpetrated through the internet. The second most common scams were telephone calls usually offering failsafe investments or informing the victim they have won money or holidays.
Helena Herklots, Services Director at Age UK, commented: 'The evidence shows that scamming is rife. We are working to raise awareness of the issue and provide information and advice to help older people avoid being conned. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.'
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 http://www.ageuk.org.uk/scams. Alternatively, to order any of these guides or for instant advice and information simply call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.
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* UK pop = 61.79M people and 11.55 million are below 16 therefore about 50.24 million adults (>16 yrs old) and if 29% have been targeted = 14.57 million (rounded figures, from Office for National Statistics mid-2009 population projections, August 2010.
** If 14.5 million targeted this year and 17% of those targeted become victim then 2.47 million people said they were victims.
Notes to Editors
Age UK works in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI. For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.
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.
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 475 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.