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Author: Age Scotland
Published on 16 September 2017 09:00 AM

Age Scotland is urging older people and their families to protect themselves from phone scams following the Scottish Government’s announcement of its Nuisance Calls Action Plan. We are supporting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of nuisance calls led by Which? and Trading Standards Scotland.
 
Research by Age UK shows that “vishing” or phone scams are the second most common type of scam, affecting over one in 10 people aged 65 and over in Scotland.
 
Twelve per cent of people targeted have responded to a scam, rising to 16 per cent in the 75-plus age group.  Of these, 13 per cent lost more than £1000, with 6 per cent losing £5000 or more.
 
The most common scams include fraudsters claiming to represent pension companies, banks, or energy companies or offering PPI claims. Callers to the Age Scotland helpline have reported being told they owe hundreds of pounds in taxes or talked into giving their bank details over the phone.
 
Almost two-thirds of people targeted did not report the scam, with 22 per cent saying they were too embarrassed to even tell their family or friends.
 
Age Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s £50,000 fund to provide call-blocking technology to the most vulnerable people. But the charity says more needs to be done to raise awareness of the issue and protect those most likely to be targeted.  
 
They are highlighting the simple steps that older people and their families can take to avoid falling victim to phone scams.
 
Keith Robson, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “Unfortunately nuisance calls and phone scams are becoming part of everyday life for older people in Scotland. While people of any age can be targeted, older people are disproportionately affected as they are more likely to be at home during the day and rely on landlines. An increasing number live alone, which makes them much more likely to fall victim to scammers.
 
“These calls can have a devastating impact on people’s quality of life. We’ve heard of pensioners being scammed out of thousands of pounds. Unwanted calls can also lead to people feeling more isolated, as they’re afraid to pick up their phone.
 
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s action to tackle the scourge of nuisance calls and phone scams. But there is still a lot to be done to protect the most vulnerable people in Scotland. We would urge people to take a few simple steps to protect themselves and their older relatives, and not be embarrassed to report these calls.”
 
Age Scotland offers free information and advice for anyone who is worried about being vishing or other scams. To order free copies of Avoiding scams, Staying safe, Internet security or other guides people can call the Age Scotland Helpline on Freephone 0800 12 44 222.
 
 
AGE SCOTLAND’S TOPS TIPS FOR AVOIDING SCAM

1. Don’t rush into anything

If you think you’ve been offered a great deal, don’t agree to it immediately. A genuine offer is unlikely to require an instant decision. Ask your family and friends what they think or call the Age Scotland helpline on 0800 12 44 222 or the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
 
2. Make sure the company is reputable
 
Before you commit to buying, check the seller. Does the company have a contact number that works and a postal address, and is it a member of a trade association? Financial companies must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – you can check at www.fca.org.uk/register or call 0800 111 6768.
 
3.    Know who’s on the line
 
If you receive a call from a company and are suspicious about it, ask if you can call them back and hang up. Make sure that you have really ended the phone call, as some scammers can stay on the line and even play a fake dialling tone. You can avoid this by calling from a different phone, or calling a friend or relative first to ask their advice.
 
4.    Never give out financial details over the phone
 
Be suspicious of unsolicited callers who ask for your personal or financial details. Your bank will never ask you for your PIN number or other confidential information on the phone. Your bank will never come to your home to collect cash or a payment card, or ask you to transfer money to a different account. If you’re targeted by one of these scams, hang up and report it to the police on 101.
 
5.    Be wise to cold call scams
 
Ignore unsolicited phone calls offering a brilliant investment or saying you’ve won a lottery. (If you haven’t entered a lottery, then you can’t win it!) Never reply to these- it shows your details are active which will encourage scammers to contact you again. Contact the Telephone Preference Service on 020 7291 3320 to have your name taken off UK marketing lists. This is a free service, although it won’t prevent calls from disreputable companies that ignore the law, or those based overseas.
 
6.    Be aware of new pension scams
 
New rules allowing people to access their pension pots from age 55 have brought with them new scams. Be cautious of anyone that claims to know about loopholes, talks about overseas investments or says you can get your money before age 55. The FCA lists current scams at www.fca.gov.uk/scamsmart. Visit the Government’s Pension Wise website for free and impartial guidance on your pension options.
 
7.    Report it
 
Anyone can be taken in by a scam, so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you. If you think you’ve been scammed, or you’ve spotted a scam report the scam to the police and contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it and get help. See our free guide Avoiding scams or visit our scams page.