scams

Avoiding scams

£ 4-6 billion was scammed last year by fraudsters, a figure that is just too frightening for words. So let’s talk about scams… and importantly how to avoid them or at least reduce the likelihood of your parents becoming victims.

According to Professor Keith Brown at Bournemouth University, a leading academic and policy adviser on the topic “In terms of scale, in terms of money and in terms of the number of victims and the impact on society, this problem could dwarf even issues like child abuse in the UK; it is a massive problem and now is the time to act”.

How many times have you had people on the phone trying to sell you a one-off deal, or an email saying you have won a £ 1 million prize – just send over your bank details and the prize money will be deposited by return? We know these offers are too good to be true and just put down the phone or delete the email.   Sadly, it’s big business for the fraudsters who are increasingly sophisticated.  They know just how to create stories with an incentive that doesn’t seem too outrageous to a target audience of elderly people to persuade them to hand over money or even their bank account details.

No one wants this to happen to their elderly parents, so here are some suggestions to stay safe:  we recognise that some of these are easier said than done of course.

Our number one tip is to register phone numbers and postal addresses with both the  Telephone Preference Service and the Mail Protection Service;  neither service can guarantee to remove all scam calls/requests, but they should dramatically reduce the volume;

  • Be suspicious and don’t engage. If an offer sounds too good to be true, probably is.
  • Take time – never make an immediate decision when offered a deal. Think about the offer and consult an independent party or seek professional advice before agreeing.
  • Check out the credentials of a person or organisation before signing any agreement or handing over any money.
  • Protect bank details and person details. Never give personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Never send money abroad, often these are requests received on-line. Even if it says it’s from someone you know it can still be a scam.
  • Shred any documents containing a home address before putting them in the bin or recycling.
  • Delete any unsolicited texts from your phone. Protect your phone by never replying.
  • Protect computers by always keeping the anti-virus and security programmes up-to-date and make sure you are using secure pages on sites which begin with ‘https’ in the address bar, rather than just http.
  • Contact Action Fraud, to report anything suspicious – better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any tips on how to stay safe, let us know via the Age Space forum.