Old people most vulnerable from scams research reveals
More than two-fifths of older people in Scotland – over 400,000 people – believe they have been targeted by scammers, according to new research for Age Scotland and Age UK.
Of those targeted, nearly a tenth have responded to a scam.
Across the UK, over a quarter (27%) of single older people responded to an attempted scam compared to just under 9% of their married counterparts.
The findings – published to coincide with the week-long focus on older people as part of Scams Awareness Month – reveal further differences in how people respond to scams according to marital status.
Of those who had previously been targeted by scammers, 16% of single older people paid them money, compared to just 6% of those who were married. And just over a fifth (22%) of those who are single provided personal information compared to just 2% of those who are married.
As well as marital status, age seems to play a key role, with the findings showing that slightly more people in the 75+ age group pay up or give personal or financial information to the scammers.
Age Scotland is warning that, although anyone can be scammed, the fact that many older people live alone and/ or with cognitive impairment leaves them more at risk of being targeted.
Keith Robson, Age Scotland chief executive said: “Scams can have a devastating emotional and financial impact on older victims, seriously damaging their quality of life and wellbeing. That anyone would target an older person to defraud them is abhorrent yet it happens all too often.
“Everyone has the right to feel comfortable, safe and secure at home, yet there are an increasing number of sophisticated scams designed to cheat people of their money, empty their bank account or steal their identity.
"We are urging all older people, and their friends and families, to be vigilant and get up to speed on how to avoid scams. If there is any doubt about the authenticity of an offer or piece of correspondence, do not respond and report it to the authorities immediately.”
The charity has welcomed funding from the Life Changes Trust to support three local authorities (East Renfrewshire, Angus and South Ayrshire) to work together to develop a preventative approach to protect people with dementia from financial scams.
In addition to the serious financial losses the evidence shows that being scammed can seriously affect quality of life and wellbeing.
Older people can experience embarrassment, shame, depression, social isolation and a decline in physical health, with some people even losing their independence and becoming more in need of care, states the charity.
Free information and advice for anyone who is worried about being scammed is available from Age Scotland Helpline on Freephone 0800 12 44 222 or www.agescotland.org.uk