Scammers and the Elderly

According to official crime figures, every 40 seconds an older person will become a victim of fraud.

It has been reported that 43% of people aged 65 and over, which is almost 5 million people, believe they have been scammed.

There are various ways a scammer can get personal information in order to commit fraud:

  • Telephone – eg pretending to be a known company or your bank. If the phone call feels suspicious just say ‘no, thank you’ and hang up.
  • Online – eg online romance, pretending to be someone they are not, or fake emails often pretending to be a company or your bank, or government bodies such as HMRC or DVLA.
  • Post – these are cleverly written letters which can vary in style.
  • Mobile – Scammers pretending to be a reputable company will send texts that are designed to steal personal or financial information or encourage people to download malware to their phones.

Scammers often intimidate and bully victims into parting with their money and/or personal information.

Age UK reported that single, older people are at a higher risk because of their circumstances which makes them vulnerable, whether this is because they are lonely, bereaved or living with dementia.

If an elderly person is lonely and does not have many family members or friends to talk to about day-to-day matters this can make them more willing to have a conversation with a potential scammer. Often, victims may be unaware it has even happened and will therefore be less likely to report it to anyone. This can lead to depression, withdrawal and further isolation and a deterioration of physical and mental health.

When someone is scammed it can lead to a loss of confidence and feeling shame that they have become a victim but it is important to remember that it is not the victim’s fault. If you believe you have been scammed, or have received any suspicious correspondence, contact the company or bank directly to report the incident, and talk to a family member or friend who can be there to advise or support you. Citizens Advice also provide access to professional emotional support if you’ve been scammed; for more information click here.

Hayley Wintrup is a caseworker in the private client team at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.

For more information on our range of legal services including elderly client care, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email