Bank card and investment fraud are among the most lucrative scams for those determined to part the innocent from their cash – and older people are most likely to become the victims.
The national Scams Awareness Month campaign is turning its focus on people aged over 70, who, research has shown, face the greatest loss from a range of scams.
The average age of people reporting scams is 75, with over-70s being the group that sees the largest proportion of people who are recurring victims of scams.
Older people tend to fall victim most often to phone and mail scams, and figures from National Trading Standards (www.nationaltradingstandards.uk) show that larger numbers of older people are deliberately targeted, compared to other age groups.
- 75 is the average age of reported scam victims.
- £4,500 was found to be the average financial loss for those aged 75 to 79.
- Over-70s have the highest reported loss from a number of different types of scam.
- Citizens Advice data shows that clients who had been victim of a scam or fraud were more likely to be older, with more than a third aged 65-plus.
- Those aged 61 to 80 were more likely to be victims of investment fraud. This type of fraud has an average loss to victims of £10,500 compared to an average loss across all scams of £395.
One recent victim of a bank card scam is a 72-year-old Broad Green woman who received a telephone call from a man claiming to be the new manager at a local branch of her bank. He became angry when she refused to tell him her pin codes, telling her that she could lose money if she refused.
A follow-up caller, claiming to be the first man’s superior, asked her to meet him at another branch. She refused. A further caller, claiming to be the manager of the branch at which she banked, said he needed her cards as they would be replaced later that day. Trusting that he really was her bank manager, she agreed. He said he would send a courier to collect the cards, and they agreed a password that the courier would use.
The courier arrived, with the correct password, and the resident handed over all her bank cards. The man claiming to be the manager called a short time later, said he had her cards, and needed the pin codes for each of them, which she duly provided.
The victim said that she didn’t like telephone banking and that she would like to set up a branch account. The caller said he could set it up for her but would need some money. He told the victim to go to the West Croydon branch of her bank and withdraw £10,000 in cash. The branch cashier told her that she could withdraw only £5,000.
She then received another phone call from the bogus bank manager, asking to meet her at the East Croydon branch to open the new account and that he would send a courier to collect the £5,000 cash. The courier who had earlier collected the cards collected the cash. The “bank manager” called again, saying that he would call the next morning to arrange to meet the victim at the East Croydon branch.
Later that evening, the victim received a telephone call from her bank’s fraud investigation department, with details of activity in her account. The victim confirmed that she had not made those transactions, and realised that she had been scammed. She reported the incident to the police.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“It’s crucial that we all remember that we should never reveal personal or banking details to telephone callers.
“As this sad case reveals, these scammers are very plausible and are often armed with information – such as dates of birth, middle names and addresses – that lends credibility to their claims that they’re bona fide officials.
“A genuine caller from a bank or building society will never ask for your pin code or account password. If asked, hang up the phone, and report that you’ve been approached by someone you believe to be a con-artist.”
What can consumers do to tackle scams?
Three things that residents can do if they suspect they are the target of a scam.
- Get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or by calling 03454 04 05 06. More information about Scams Awareness Month can be found at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/scams-awareness-month/scams-awareness-month/
- Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. Reporting can help prevent it happening to others. If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved in the scam, the consumer’s first step should be to contact their bank or card company.
- Tell family, friends and neighbours so that they are aware and can avoid scams.