How To Stay Safe From Scams
Anyone can fall victim to a scam, but older people can be at greater risk; according to research carried out in 2017 for Age UK, almost 5 million people aged 65+ in the UK believed they had been targeted by scammers. Sadly, elderly people are more vulnerable from scammers. They typically live alone or at home during the day and are more likely to open the front door to talk, perhaps due to loneliness – and have savings or valuables in the home. Some older people might also be suffering from dementia, which could affect their decision-making process.
So what is a scam and how can you best avoid being scammed?
A scam is essentially a dishonest scheme used by criminals to trick people out of their money. Scammers might be individuals or organised gangs and these days their approach can be very convincing with many victims not realising until it’s too late that they are being tricked. Potential ‘targets’ might be approached by phone, post, online or even by visiting them at home.
So, be very careful who you share your personal details with (name, address, passwords, account numbers and date of birth) – ID fraud is sadly very common and stealing someone’s personal information is ‘gold’ to scammers as this gives them clear access to your bank account, to use your bank cards, open new accounts in your name or even make false insurance claims.
What should you do if you think you’ve been the victim of a scam?
- If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is! Winning a large prize or an ‘offer of a lifetime’ is rarely genuine.
- A reputable company should always give you time to make an informed decision while scammers will often try to hurry your decision making – so always take time to think things through and don’t trust anyone who tries to rush you.
- Do your research. Make sure a company is reputable by checking for a contact number and postal address and membership of a trade association. Scammers often use bad grammar and spelling on emails in particular so check the ‘from’ email address for authenticity.
- Be security conscious; before you open the front door, check who’s there and don’t feel awkward about asking someone to leave if you don’t know them. If they refuse to leave, raise the alarm and call the police.
- Cold calling is usually not to be trusted so be suspicious of any company that contacts you out of the blue and ignore unsolicited invitations such as letters, emails or phone calls offering a brilliant investment or saying you’ve won a lottery.
- Scamming it’s much more common than people think so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you. If you notice a suspicious transaction from your bank account or credit card, contact your bank or financial institution immediately so they can attempt to recover any money lost. They may cancel your current card and send you a new one to stop any other fraudulent transactions from your account. If you think you’ve been the victim of scamming, report it to the police and contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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