In the UK people have never been as vulnerable to scammers as they are today and none more so than the elderly. Watch out for these common scams.
In short, scams are schemes designed to con people out of their money or in some cases to facilitate identity theft. They are usually carried out by phone call, text, email or on the doorstep. While many elderly people are better at home in their later years, as many home care providers will confirm, our elderly people are also the most trusting and it is this that can make them the most vulnerable to being caught out in these common scams.
The Nonexistent Prize or Lottery Scam
This one takes the form of a letter or phone call out of the blue informing the recipient they have won a ‘prize’ and all they have to do is contact the number or address given to claim it. They are usually asked to ring a 090 premium rate phone number or send a cheque as a ‘deposit’. Of course when they ring the 090 number they’re kept on hold which racks up a large bill.
The ‘Your Bank Account has been Compromised’ Scam
These very common scams see the person receiving a phone call purportedly from their bank which implies their account is in danger and they should immediately transfer funds to a ‘safe account’. A similar scam doing the rounds involves a phone call from someone claiming to be from HMRC implying that money is owed in unpaid tax and asking for bank account details.
And So Many Others!
The ‘Nigerian Letter’ scam, the ‘bogus holiday’ scam, ‘miracle’ health cures and fake charity collectors. These are all constantly in the news and they nearly all ask for money upfront to release a prize or larger amount of cash; some involve the victim unwittingly signing up for expensive monthly subscriptions. Silent calls are another nuisance. The phone rings but when you answer it a recorded message invites to call a premium rate number. Phone scammers ring people pretending to be from Microsoft and tell you your computer is affected by a virus. Bogus officials calling at the door with the intention of getting into the house to steal are still catching elderly people unaware. Among the more serious are pension scams which try to persuade people to switch from a safe pension scheme. These can result in pensioners losing a large chunk of their pension.
How You Can Help Your Loved One
According to the Live-in Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk) there are still too many elderly people being caught out by scammers and fraudsters but there are ways you can help to keep your loved ones safe.
- Sign them up to the Telephone Preference Service to prevent unsolicited calls. Register online at www.tpsonline.org.uk or call 0845 070 0707. Mobile users can text 85095.
- Ask their carer to screen phone calls and deal with doorstep callers.
- Consider obtaining a legal Lasting Power of Attorney to allow you to take care of a loved one’s finances.
- Advise them never to give out bank details.
- To stop unwanted mail contact the Mail Preference Service www.mpsonline.org.uk.