Every year 150,000 people in Wales fall victim to scams sent by post, email, text, the phone and internet. It is estimated that bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes, psychics and ‘miracle’ health cures cost the public more than £3.5b a year.
Age Cymru is particularly concerned that older people get scammed for twice the amount of cash in comparison with younger people, averaging losses of £1,200 per scam and with July being Scams Awareness Month, they are calling on the Welsh Government to “up the ante” in tackling this growing menace.
Many older people who have been scammed often feel too embarrassed to share their experiences and seek help. In extreme cases this can lead to the person losing their self-confidence, withdrawing from life, and even losing their independence.
The charity wants to raise public awareness of scams and the simple steps older people can take to help protect themselves. It is also wants public and private organisations such as mailing houses to do more to stop criminals from using their services to scam older people.
It is pressing for improved data collection on the scale of scamming in Wales and for better support for victims seeking justice and financial compensation.
There are several ways in which criminals target older people with scams. They can be targeted through junk mail, via the telephone or online and even on their own doorstep.
Unfortunately doorstep crime in Wales is still prolific, with rogue traders conning householders into having unnecessary work done and demanding staggering amounts upfront for often shoddy work or no work at all.
This is why I have been calling on the Welsh Government to make Wales the first ‘No Cold Calling’ nation in Britain.
Creating legally enforceable ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ across Wales would give vulnerable residents peace of mind and protection against these rogue traders. This has been something which has already been extremely successful here in Clwyd West, where Conwy County Borough Council have imposed a No Calling Zone in Abergele.
No Cold Calling Zones put the power into the hands of local residents and anecdotal evidence suggests that they help to promote a sense of empowerment.
It is crucial that we protect all residents in Wales, but particularly our elderly and the vulnerable and I will therefore continue pushing to ensure we make Wales a ‘No Cold Calling’ nation.
Top tips on avoiding scams:
• Use door chains to keep door step scammers out of your home
• Don’t believe letters claiming you have won a lottery if you never entered it in the first place
• Hang up the telephone if you are suspicious about a call and remember that a bank will never ask for a PIN number
• Delete emails from unknown sources. Never open or reply to them.
• Get independent financial advice before agreeing to sign up to any financial arrangement
• If you have been scammed or feel you are being scammed don’t be embarrassed, instead seek help and support from a reputable organisation such as Trading Standards, local Police Station or Citizen’s Advice.
For a free copy of Age UK’s Avoiding Scams – smart ways to protect yourself please call their free Information and Advice line on 08000 223 444.