Helping Older Adults Avoid Scams and Fraud | The Good Care Group

Helping older adults avoid scams and fraud

Find out what steps you can take to begin helping older adults avoid scams and how live-in care can reduce this risk for your loved one.

Ensuring the safety of older adults involves actively preventing scams and fraud. As a concerned family member or friend, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your loved one from potential malicious activities.

In this guide, we explain some of the reasons why older individuals are particularly vulnerable to scams and fraud. Additionally, we provide actionable tips to minimise these risks significantly and discuss how live-in care can serve as a proactive safeguard.

Why are older people vulnerable to scams and fraud?

According to Age UK, an older person becomes the victim of fraud every 40 seconds.

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.

Common elderly scams

In the UK, like in many other places, older adults can be targeted by various scams. These scams specifically target the elderly population, exploiting their trust and potentially causing financial or emotional harm.

Some common scams that target the elderly include:

  • Telephone Scams: Fraudsters often pose as bank officials, government representatives, or utility company employees over the phone, attempting to extract sensitive information or payments.
  • Phishing Emails: Elderly individuals may receive emails that appear legitimate but are designed to trick them into revealing personal information, such as passwords or financial details.
  • Postal Scams: Fraudulent letters or documents may be mailed, claiming lottery winnings, fake prizes, or requests for money under false pretences.
  • Door-to-Door Scams: Scammers may visit homes posing as salespeople, charity workers, or tradespeople, pressuring older adults into paying for unnecessary services or products.
  • Investment Scams: Seniors can be targeted with fake investment opportunities promising high returns. These scams often involve pressure tactics to encourage quick decision-making.
  • Tech Support Scams: Fraudsters may contact older adults claiming to be from a tech support service, stating there’s a problem with their computer, and requesting access to fix the issue or selling unnecessary software.
  • Romance Scams: Lonely seniors may be targeted by scammers posing as potential romantic partners online, leading to requests for money or personal information.
  • Fake Charities: Scammers exploit the generosity of older adults by posing as representatives of fake charities, seeking donations for non-existent causes.
  • Home repair scams: Home repair scams are deceptive schemes where individuals or companies pose as legitimate home repair or improvement service providers to exploit homeowners. These scams often involve substandard work, overcharging, or, in some cases, no work being done at all.

How to protect the elderly from scams

Safeguarding your loved ones from scams requires a proactive approach and ongoing vigilance. Here are practical steps to help ensure the well-being of older adults:

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

Open communication:

Regularly engage in conversations with your loved ones about the calls, posts, and visitors they encounter. Ask about any unusual activities and stay attuned to their experiences.

Take the time to inquire about any unusual activities they may have noticed, paying close attention to changes in their routines or unexpected interactions. Creating an environment where your loved ones feel comfortable sharing their experiences allows you to stay attuned to any subtle signs that might indicate they are being targeted by scammers.

During visits, be observant of subtle signs of potential scams, such as unexpected increases in mail or paperwork related to unfamiliar payments.

Phone, email and postal privacy:

Safeguard against nuisance and telemarketing calls by making their phone number ex-directory. Additionally, enrol in the free Telephone Preference Service online or over the phone.

Establish spam filters on email accounts to block unsolicited emails. Register for the free Mailing Preference Service to curb unwanted marketing materials.

Stop unwanted post, including marketing letters and free magazines, through the Mailing Preference Service or by contacting the Direct Marketing Association via email (

Stay informed:

Keep your loved ones informed about prevalent scams. Explain the workings of these scams and highlight the signs they should be wary of.

Explain some of the specific signs and red flags they should be wary of, whether it’s an unexpected phone call, a dubious email, or an unannounced visitor. Encourage your loved one to avoid making on-the-spot decisions regarding offers or services. By imparting this crucial information, you empower your loved ones to approach every interaction with a discerning eye.

Guard personal information:

Emphasise the importance of never divulging personal or financial information unless the solicitor can provide verifiable identification. Legitimate organisations, whether over the phone or in person, should be able to furnish credible proof of their identity.

Power of attorney discussion:

By making sure your loved one’s voice is heard when they no longer have the capacity to express their true preferences, you can dramatically improve their overall quality of life. Consider whether it’s time to start a conversation about power of attorney. Discuss whether your loved one would feel more comfortable with someone else managing their financial affairs.

Learn more about power of attorney in our guide.

What to do if you are a victim of fraud

Safeguarding your loved ones from scams requires a proactive approach and ongoing vigilance. Here are practical steps to help ensure the well-being of older adults:

If you’ve been targeted by fraud, taking prompt action is essential to mitigate the impact. Follow these steps if you are a victim of fraud in the UK:

1. Report the incident:

Contact your local police and report the fraud. Provide detailed information about the incident, and obtain a crime reference number.

2. Notify your financial institutions:

Contact your bank, credit card companies, and any other relevant financial institutions to report the fraud. They can assist in securing your accounts and investigate fraudulent transactions.

3. Credit reference agencies:

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports with major UK credit reference agencies, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This alert enhances security and makes it more challenging for the fraudster to open new accounts in your name.

4. Action fraud:

Report the fraud to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. You can do this online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

5. Document everything:

Keep meticulous records of all communications related to the fraud, including emails, messages, and phone calls. This documentation can be valuable during investigations.

6. Change passwords:

Change passwords for all your online accounts, including email, banking, and social media. Use strong, unique passwords for each account to enhance security.

How our ‘Outstanding’ live-in care can help:

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.

With over 10 years of experience, The Good Care Group provides high-quality live-in care, keeping clients safe and happy in the comfort of their own homes while improving their overall health and well-being. We offer highly personalised, one-to-one care that reflects individual needs, choices, wishes and social preferences, allowing clients to maintain their independence and enjoy their preferred lifestyle.

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.

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