Those age 75 and older are the most vulnerable when it comes to fraud of all kinds, despite being tech savvy. The scams range from internet, email, telephone and above all face-to-face scams.
Fraud aimed at anyone no matter what their age is only likely to increase given that our lives are increasingly led or supported by online services. Fraudsters deliberately, and without remorse, go out to deceive their victims with the promise of investments, goods, prizes and other fictitious offers.
In my opinion the worst of these ruthless fraudsters are the ones who have the gall to rob people face-to-face of their savings on the threat of fraudulent home and emergency repairs. There was a spate of such daylight robbery in my area by a group of cowboy builders recently. Fortunately they were caught and brought to justice, but it will not necessarily lead to compensation for their victims, the loss of savings or the trauma caused by the whole experience. It made me think as to why the older generation is more likely to be victims of fraud.
Whatever the fraud, there are common elements to be found in most fraud. In the first instance the fraudsters are charismatic and gain the trust of their victims. Their actions appear to be motivated by a concern for the wellbeing of their victims or that they have deliberately been chosen or seen as lucky to be selected for whatever benefits the fraudsters are the bearer of.
Fraudsters tend to target people who are vulnerable such as those who live on their own, are at home during the day, have savings and investments and sadly, those who are lonely and therefore more likely to talk to strangers. I would add that the older generation was also brought up with values that expect politeness, not wanting to be perceived as rude and automatically extend their trust towards others, including strangers. They may also be more vulnerable to intimidation and scare tactics.
Sadly, women are twice as likely to be the victim of financial scams than men. This is possibly because women in a particular age group were not used to being responsible for financial decisions. There are a number of ways in which we can protect our relatives and ourselves. Prevention is better than cure and the best way to avoid being scammed is to learn to spot the signs in advance.
Being contacted out of the blue. Whatever services you may be looking for from bank accounts, investments to traders, you should be the one to initiate contact. If you are contacted out of the blue it is likely to be a pushy salesperson or worse, an attempted scam.
It sounds too good to be true. If the deal, product or service sounds too good to be true it probably is. Very few of us have relatives we’ve never heard of before leaving us thousands in their wills.
You are asked for personal details. Scammers are extremely skilled at getting you to reveal personal details. Should they succeed it will give them access to your bank accounts, set up new accounts in your name or even steal your identity.
Pressure is put on you to make a decision right away. Scammers know that the more time you have to think about a decision, the more likely you will spot a scam or change your mind. Be wary of anyone who puts pressure on you to make a decision.
Emails or letters full of grammatical and spelling mistakes. Legitimate correspondence from equally legitimate companies will not be peppered with glaring mistakes.
Suspicious contact details. Understandably scammers would be reluctant to provide you with contact details allowing them to be traced. Be suspicious therefore if the person tries to avoid giving contact details or provide you with a P O Box number.
Alas, this is just the tip of the iceberg and scammers continue to invent more and more sophisticated and bold ways to ensnare us in their web of deceit. Be on the alert and if in doubt, report your suspicions.