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Helping older adults avoid scams and fraud

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Helping older adults avoid scams and fraud is an important aspect of elderly care.

As a relative or close friend, you'll want to ensure your loved one is kept safe from this kind of malicious activity.

Here, we'll look at why older people are at risk of scams and fraud. Then, we'll provide a series of actionable tips to help reduce this risk as far as possible.

Why are older people particularly susceptible to scams and fraud?

Over 5 million people are affected by scams each year, though some estimates place this figure much higher. 80% of UK phone scam victims are aged 55 or above, while the average age of people involved in postal scams is 74.

Older people are more likely to be involved in scams and fraud for a variety of reasons, including:

  • General or dementia-related cognitive decline
  • Lack of understanding of new technologies
  • Propensity to trust people who reach out
  • Perceived vulnerability and/or isolation

Many scams involve impersonating other bodies, such as government agencies, banks, charities and insurance companies. Others may involve fictional competitions, or services. More sinister examples include actions such as befriending, or even threats, in order to illicit money.

How can I help older adults avoid scams?

There's no catch-all answer to this, but the following actions could help keep your loved one safe:

  • Ask them regularly about the types of calls, post and visitors they're receiving, and whether they've noticed anything out of the ordinary
  • Look for subtle signs when you stop by for a visit, such as unexpected volumes of post, or paperwork pertaining to unusual payments
  • Prevent nuisance and telemarketing calls by making their phone number ex-directory and signing up for the free Telephone Preference Service online or over the phone
  • Block unsolicited emails by setting up spam filters on any email accounts and signing up for the free Mailing Preference Service
  • Stop unwanted post (marketing letters, free magazines etc.) using the Mailing Preference Service, or by emailing the Direct Marketing Association (yourchoice@dma.org.uk)
  • Warn them of any particular scams you hear about or encounter; explain how the scam works and what signs to watch out for
  • Advise them never to give out personal or financial information unless the person soliciting it can provide verifiable identification
  • Recommend avoiding on-the-spot decisions relating to offers or services, and encourage them to speak with you before making a decision
  • Consider talking to your loved one about power of attorney and whether they would feel more comfortable with someone else administering their affairs

If you think your loved one may have been affected by fraud, there is a range of services you can access to report this activity and attempt to recoup any money lost.

Live-in care

Choosing live-in care can provide an extra layer of protection for your loved one, ensuring:

  • An experienced carer is on hand 24/7 to keep an eye on calls, visitors and unexpected post
  • Someone is present to look for indications of distress relating to concerns regarding fraud
  • Family, close friends or the relevant authorities can be notified before the situation develops

Helping older people avoid scams is a sad reality. However, the steps outlined above will form a solid foundation for protecting your loved one against this type of activity.

Find out more about how live-in care can help keep your loved one safe and secure by speaking to the friendly team at The Good Care Group.

Care Sector News Review: October 2017 Balham Wellness Cafe
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