Scammers have tried to trick 5 million older people to part with their money – but few have reported the crime, says new research.
With 40% of older people targeted by scammers, one in four single people confessed they had responded to a con and one in six had handed money over to a crook, compared to only one in 17 married people.
The survey by AgeUK also revealed one in five singles readily handed personal information to a scammer, while the figure for married people was a much lower 2%.
The report also found that age was a relevant factor in scams, with those aged over 75 years old most likely to give their personal or financial information to scammers.
Few of the scam victims were ready to tell about the incident.
AgeUK found that one in five were too embarrassed about falling for a con to tell anyone, while most reports were made to family or friends rather than the police.
“Scams can cause older people to lose their life savings and can really affect their quality of life. It’s sadly common for older people who’ve been scammed to suffer from depression and isolation, and some even become in need of more care,” said an AgeUK spokesman.
As part of Scam Awareness Month in Britain, AgeUK has a list of tips to help older people avoid scams.
The organisation warns that pension scams are common.
” New rules allowing people to access their pension pots from age 55 have brought with them new scams. Be cautious of anyone that claims to know about loopholes, talks about overseas investments or says you can get your money before age 55,” says AgeUK.
Older people are also urged to ignore telephone cold callers, letters, tests and emails offering investment advice or unexpected lottery wins or refunds.
“Don’t rush into anything. Even if it seems like a great offer don’t agree immediately. Speak to family and friends or call an advice agency,” warns the report.
“Make sure the company is reputable. Do your research on the seller. Check it’s got a contact number and postal address and is a member of a trade association.”