A recent BBC investigation has released a shocking statistic that fraudsters scammed nearly 49,000 older people (aged 60 and over) across the UK in the past year, the equivalent to almost six reports every hour. Perhaps most pertinent, is the fact that 1,140 of those victims were aged over 90 and 13 were over 100. (1)
This figure however, only details those that have been reported. It’s estimated that the true figure of elderly victims could be in the millions. (1)
Types of scams and fraudulent activity
Postal and phone scams
A frequent method for fraudsters is through a phone call. Scammers will attempt to obtain bank details through calls claiming to be from HMRC, compensations companies or the victim’s bank. They will try to convince the victim that they are an official employee from an organisation and require verification of the victims account or card details to resolve an issue.
Scammers will also attempt the same techniques but through the post. As copying practices become more sophisticated, it can be very difficult to spot the difference between genuine and fake correspondence as scammers will attempt to replicate the look of a legitimate organisation’s letters, including their logo, signatures, fonts and colours.
In 2015 the rules on private pensions changed, meaning that people over 55 have greater access to their funds. This access has been attracting fraudsters who contact people stating false information, persuading them to send them their pension savings.
Some of their approaches are conducted over the phone by call, text or via e-mail. They claim that they know about loopholes that can help people to get more than the usual 25% tax-free, offer high returns of over 8% from overseas investment or new creative investments, offer a ‘loan’, ‘saving advance’ or ‘cashback’ from pensions or suggest putting all savings into one single investment. (2)
It’s important to be vigilant. Doorstep scammers can often be polite and friendly and will use techniques to either scam victims out of cash or attempt to get into their households.
Recent statistics highlight that most scammers will target the elderly and vulnerable, especially those that live on their own. According to the National Trading Standards, 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over, making homecare service users a prime target for scammers.
There are many ways in which a scammer will attempt to get money. They may try to convince you that they are officials from utility companies to gain access to the home, or pretend that they are from a charity collecting money for a good cause. Others, such as rouge traders, will call or turn up to say that they’ve noticed a problem with the property that needs urgent attention.
How homecare workers can help
When visiting your service user, take note of warnings that may suggest that they have been a victim of fraudulent activity. Are they confused about any post that they received? Have they been mithered by nuisance phone calls? Did they receive a knock at the door by someone they didn’t recognise?
Ask questions to try to understand the situation and always report any potential fraudulent activity to the branch who will raise it with friends or family and will start the process of action.
What can you advise?
As providers of care, it’s important that we do our best to protect vulnerable service users. However this advice also applies if you have contact with any other elderly people in the community.
If you’re concerned about fraudulent activity with one of your service users, please contact the branch straight away who will provide guidance on the next steps.
If you know anyone who would like to make a difference in your community by caring for the elderly, share this article or click here for more information.
Source: (1) BBC News, (2) Age UK
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