Age UK has reported that 940,000 older people fall prey to scams every year. Many people blame themselves for “falling for” a scam, when in fact, they’re victims who’ve been targeted and socially engineered by fraudsters.
In fact, anyone can become the victim of a scam, whatever their age. But it is the case that criminals do exploit a lack of knowledge around technology to target older people with certain scams.
Scam danger signs
Someone calls pretending to be from the tax office, the bank or the police. They ask you to make payments to a new account. You should hang up.
Text and emails
You’re sent an email or text asking you to click a link because ‘your account is due to expire’ or ‘you need to pay £2.59 [or similar] for unpaid postage’ or even ‘you can win an iPhone 14 Pro’. Don’t click on the link.
You get an urgent request from the social media account of someone you know, asking for money. Call the person you know first to verify it’s legit. If the message is from someone you’ve never met: don’t send money. You get a friend request from someone you don’t know. Don’t accept.
Someone contacts you, saying they’re your bank, IT support, an internet provider or someone else ‘helpful’. They ask you to download applications on your computer or phone to share your screen, or to ‘help protect you’. Don’t download their application.
How to protect yourself
Phone call scams
Criminals call, pretending to be from your bank, the police or even HMRC and demand an immediate payment, perhaps to protect your money from ‘hackers’ or because you’re ‘being fined for not paying tax correctly’. They may ask for security information.
Unfortunately, phone numbers can be ‘spoofed’. So the call appears to come from a real bank or company, but actually it’s fake. Criminals put pressure on people to act quickly, without giving them an opportunity to seek help from a family member or friend, putting them into a state of panic.