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Tips on protecting the elderly against fraud

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We’ve all been doing everything possible to protect ourselves in many ways during the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s important for us to know, and help to educate our elderly loved ones and the people we care for, about the types of scams and how to spot them. Scammers can be very convincing, and many victims don’t realise what’s going on until it’s happened. Here are a few things to be aware of:

How the fraudsters may contact you…

  • Telephoning people in the UK and other countries
  • Using websites to offer false services
  • Using email addresses that look official but are not

Tricks they use…

Scammers usually try to make you believe that they can offer you something very easily, such as home renovations or even care. They will try to make themselves seem very genuine and may use language that sounds official. They may already know something about you, such as your name or address.

Who might be targeted?

Anyone can fall victim to a scam, but those who may be at higher risk are those that live alone or are at home during the day. They may also target older people incase they experience feelings of loneliness or confusion, which may influence their decision-making process.

You should be suspicious if…

  • What they’re offering seems too good to be true
  • They ask you for money, particularly if they ask you to pay cash or using an unusual or insecure payment method
  • They ask for your bank account or credit card details or other confidential information that could be used for security purposes
  • They demand secrecy or try to force you to act quickly
  • The website or letter doesn’t look professional, such as poor spelling and grammar or blurred images
  • You are asked to reply to a free email account such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail

If you are suspicious…

  • Do not give out or confirm any personal information
  • Do not pay them any money
  • Report your suspicions or incidents to Action Fraud, either via the website or by calling 0300 123 2040

Warning signs to look out for…

If you think your loved one has already been targeted by scammers, here are some things to look out for:

  • They have an unusual amount of post lying around the house
  • There is evidence of large unexplained cash withdrawals or cheque payments
  • They seem short of money when they shouldn’t be
  • They seem to get a lot of phone calls from strangers or companies
  • They seem anxious or upset for no apparent reason

Some scam victims don’t believe they’re being scammed. Your loved one might believe this person is their friend or that they’re just about to win a big prize.

Things can be even more difficult if your loved one has dementia. They might find it harder to say ‘no’ to salespeople, be more likely to believe strangers or not realise what’s happening.

What to do if you’ve fallen victim…

  • Let your bank know as soon as possible and monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
  • If you suspect your identity may have been stolen, you can check your credit file quickly and easily online. Use a reputable service provider and follow up on any unexpected or suspicious results.
  • If you have fallen victim to fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud via the website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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