How to Protect Elderly Parents From Scams

Around four million people in the UK are scammed each year, here’s some ways to ensure your elderly parents are protected…

Our elderly relatives come from an era of trust, community and neighbourhood togetherness. Therefore they are much more likely to take an offer, or proposal at face value.

It’s important that we know how to protect our elderly parents, relatives or neighbours from scams. Some people are more trusting or vulnerable than others.

It’s a common problem, and certainly not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s simply a sad reflection of the way the world has become. A Citizens Advice analysis reveals that:

  • Over a third of scams (34%) were over the phone.
  • Almost a quarter of scams (24%) were through visits to a web site.
  • 16% were letter or fax scams.
  • One in ten scams (10%) were through emails.

Here are a few ways that you can protect elderly parents from scams:

Keeping your personal details private

Advise your elderly parent or relative to never give out their phone number, address, bank details or any other personal information to anyone who emails, phones, or knocks on the door.

Answering the door safely

If anyone comes knocking on the door that they are not expecting then they need to know how to answer the door safely.

This is important to protect them from any bogus callers or distraction burglars who trick vulnerable people in order to gain entry to their home.

Rogue Traders

Rogue traders are people who offer to do home repairs, building works or garden work for you.

They can be convincing and are often not properly qualified to provide the work or what they provide is to a poor standard. In some cases, they may not start the work or finish the work at all after requesting money in advance, giving a story of not being paid by another customer. They are known to target vulnerable people or people who are living alone.

Rogue traders often overcharge and fail to give notice of your cancellation rights.

If a workman advices your elderly parent that they need repairs or building work, they need to tell them that they’ll be getting some quotes in. Never agree anything at the door and never let them into the home.

It’s always best to commission the work yourself by making contact with local tradespeople that have reviews and credentials. Here are some websites you can use to find them:

Email, phone or post scams

Some junk mail can be convincing by asking for money for worthy causes, or telling you that you are going to win something. Also, once you complete one of them, it is highly likely that thousands more will be received as they sell personal details to others.

To stop unwanted post, contact the Mail Preference Service.

Phone calls can be just as bad and just as demanding. Unwanted telephone calls can be stopped by contacting the Telephone Preference Service.

There are also phishing emails that look like they come from a bank, or something you could have an account with, telling you to enter your user name and password. These details are then captured by criminals.

If your elderly parent is using email, it will be best to educate them well about this kind of thing. Tell them not to click on anything asking for details or money. Most companies will have a phishing email address where you can send the fraudulent email to report it, and they are obliged by law to investigate and protect their customers.

More information on what is being done to target scammers, help victims and raise awareness can be found on Think Jessica.

What to do if someone you know has been targeted or scammed

Action Fraud provides provide a special service, alongside Victim Support for carers to report scams on behalf of a vulnerable person.

The person must be one of the following:

  • under 17
  • have a mental health problem or learning difficulty
  • have a physical disability

Action Fraud can be contacted on 0300 123 2040

Alternatively, you can report  the scam to Trading Standards

Further Support

If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a scam, there is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s common unfortunately. It’s important that you talk about it with relatives and friends. Make neighbours aware of any bogus callers, and report it to the police.

If you need any counselling or victim support, you can contact the Victim Support helpline on 08 08 16 89 111

They are available weeknights 8pm to 8am, weekends Saturday 5pm to Monday 8am – See more at: www.victimsupport.org.uk/

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