Citizens Advice and Trading Standards Services are leading activities throughout the month of July as part of Scams Awareness Month. Scams Awareness Month is all about creating confident, alert consumers and people who are ready, willing and able to spot scams.
Local at-home care provider, Home Instead, who have partnered with national scam awareness charity, Think Jessica, launched a public education programme last year to educate older people on how to protect themselves from falling victim to mass market scams and fraud.
The team at Home Instead in Harrogate, Ripon and Thirsk regularly hold free workshops in the local area, to share information with attendees on the scale of the problem and the most common scams targeting the elderly as well as what to do if they have fallen victim to scammers.
The workshops have been very well received and have given an opportunity to those who has been scammed to share their experience and to talk about how it has affected them. Those who have been a victim of a scam often feel ashamed and embarrassed. Scams defraud individuals in the UK of an estimated £3.5 billion each year and have very serious consequences for the elderly who can suffer devastating emotional distress plus loss of confidence and trust which can lead to a loss of independence.
Owner of Home Instead and organiser of the workshops, Sheena Van Parys, said, “The ‘Faceless’ criminals who use email, telephone and post to lure their victims into parting with their life savings, personal banking information and other assets, often prey in particular on the elderly who they see as easy targets for their crimes. Working with older people in our local community, we know all too well the devastating effects this can have on them, both financially and emotionally.”
To coincide with Scams Awareness Month, the caregiving team at Home Instead have been attending the workshops throughout July to help raise awareness and to keep their clients safe in their own homes and when out in the community.
Home Instead has also put together a free ‘Senior Fraud Protection Kit’ which contains information on the most common scams, tools to help assess the risk of an elderly loved one, plus really useful checklists to help older people take practical action to lower the risk of becoming a victim of a scam.
Here are Home Instead’s top 5 fraud fighting tips:
1) Consider having a second set of eyes look over post and e-mails if you are unsure of the legitimacy of anything you receive.
2) Never divulge personal information or bank details in a call or e-mail which you did not expect or initiate – genuine callers, including your bank, will never ask for sensitive information over the phone or via e-mail.
3) Never send cash or money transfers to a stranger, even if it is to claim a ‘free prize’. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is!
4) Don’t be afraid to stop a caller if they are trying to sell something that is not wanted. Use phrases like “I never buy anything over the phone” or simply “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to hang up.”
5) A secure web address where you’re asked to enter personal information should always start: https://. Websites which start http:// (without the ‘s’) are not secure.
For information regarding Home Instead’s workshops, please call Harrogate 01423 774490, Ripon 01765 530400 or Thirsk 01845 440510 or to download the Senior Fraud Protection Kit, please visit the Information & Resources section of www.homeinstead.co.uk.
Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk for more information on Scams Awareness Month and resources available