June is Scams Awareness Month, which raises awareness of how scammers operate and how people can protect themselves. Age UK, understands that older people are often vulnerable to scams and are increasingly likely to be targeted by fraudsters.
Recent research from the Charity found that more than two-fifths (43%) of older people – almost five million people aged 65 and over - believe they have been targeted by scammers. With this in mind Age UK has created a range of advice to help older people and their families spot and avoid the latest scams targeting their money.
As well as free information and advice guides including Avoiding scams, Staying safe and Internet security, which are available to view and download online, or by calling Age UK’s Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65, the Charity is also issuing the following tips:
Age UK’s top tips for avoiding scams
Don’t rush into anything
Scammers try to rush people into making quick decisions by claiming that a great offer or investment is time-limited. Don’t be rushed and seek advice from family and friends or call an advice agency such as Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
Make sure the company is reputable
Before you commit to buying, check the seller. Does the company have a contact number that works and a postal address, and is it a member of a trade association? Financial companies must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – you can check at www.fca.org.uk/register or call 0800 111 6768.
Know who’s on your doorstep
When answering the door to an unexpected caller, remember: Lock, Stop, Chain, Check. Make sure all your doors are locked, stop to think if you are expecting anyone, put the door chain on, and check who it is. Ask for an identity card or phone the company they represent to check who they are. Think about putting up a notice saying you don’t buy on the doorstep. If you’re suspicious or the caller won’t leave, call 101 if you’re not in immediate danger or 999 in an emergency.
Beware of banking scams
Your bank would never call you and ask for your PIN number, for you to give your card to a courier, or for you to transfer your money to another account. If you get a call like this, don’t panic, hang up and then call or visit your bank directly.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Ignore letters, emails or phone calls offering a brilliant investment or saying you’ve won a lottery. Remember, if you haven’t entered a lottery then you can’t have won it. Ignore these offers and never reply - it shows your details are active which will encourage scammers to contact you again. Contact the Mailing Preference Service on 0845 703 4599 to have your name taken off UK direct mailing lists to help stop some junk mail.
Stay safe online
If you use a computer, don’t open emails or attachments from people you don’t know. Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and ignore any phone calls that say your computer has a problem or a virus, as this is a scam.
Be aware of new pension scams
Now that people have more freedom to access their pension cash, fraudsters have developed new scams to trick people out of their retirement savings. Be cautious of anyone that claims to know about loopholes, talks about overseas investments or says you can get your money before age 55. The FCA lists current scams at www.fca.gov.uk/scamsmart. Visit the Government’s Pension Wise website for free and impartial guidance on your pension options.
Anyone can be taken in by a scam, so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you. If you think you’ve been scammed, or you’ve spotted a scam contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it and get help.
Older people and their families can also find advice on Age UK’s website. Covering key areas such as pension scams, nuisance calls, doorstep crimes, investment schemes and online scams, people looking for advice can visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/scams Here they can also find links to copies of Age UK’s free, downloadable guides Avoiding scams, Staying safe and Internet security. People looking for advice can call Age UK’s free national Advice Line 365 days a year from 8am - 7pm on 0800 169 65 65.