It is estimated that around £10 billion is lost each year in the UK by victims of scams.
Age UK reports that 43% of older people – almost five million people aged 65 and over – believe they have been targeted by scammers. Those with dementia are at particular risk. Because older people are more likely to live on their own, and are often lonely, they become targets for fraudsters. Age UK reports that in one study, it was found that 27% of single people responded to a scam, compared with less than a tenth of their married counterparts. In England, the number of people over 65 living on their own is expected to rise from 3.5 million in 2015 to just under five million by 2030, and the number of people with dementia is projected to rise from 850,000 now to 1.14 million by 2025. This means that in future, significantly more older people could be at risk from being scammed.
A scam is a type of fraud in which someone steals your money or information. You can be scammed online, in person, over the phone, or through the post. Scams can be difficult to recognise, but there are things you can look out for.
It might be a scam if:
- it seems too good to be true – for example, a holiday that’s significantly cheaper than you’d expect it to be
- someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly
- you suspect you’re not dealing with a real company – for example, if there’s no postal address
- you’ve been asked to transfer money quickly
- you've been asked to pay in an unusual way – for example, by iTunes vouchers or through a transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union
- you’ve been asked to give away personal information like passwords or PINs
- you haven't had written confirmation of what's been agreed
If you've been affected by a scam or need some help the Age UK website has some useful links.
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