Ways to Prevent the Elderly from Being Scammed

Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Bryn Evans Director of Home Instead in Sheffield and Barnsley.

Due to the fact that July is Fraud Awareness Month, this week’s instalment will deliver simple steps you can take in order to protect you as well as elderly family from falling victim to the vast array of scams that defraud 3.2 million people in the UK each year.

One simple rule: A simple rule of thumb you should always remember is to “never provide information in a phone call that you did not initiate” – this may include personal information or agreeing to give money over the phone.

Protect your information:  Under any circumstances never give information regarding your bank account to someone you don't know. It is important to keep personal documents, plastic cards and chequebooks in a safe and secure place, and even if you know the person you’re emailing, never email your financial information. Finally, if you're sending personal information on the internet, assure that the website address starts https, not http.

Create complex passwords: Longer passwords with a combination of letters and digits are very difficult to guess. Change passwords regularly and don't share them with anyone.

Provide support with mail: Ask your elderly friend or relative to gather all the post together so that you can help them sort through it when you are there. Find a place where the person can keep the mail together which will in turn prompt them to wait for you to help them sort their mail.

Dispose of important documents: it is essential to discard of documents that could be useful to criminals, including bank statements, credit card statements and other financial information by shredding them. Important documentation such as tax returns and car documents should be stored in a safe place and out of sight.

Don’t open suspicious looking emails: If you get mail that looks unusual it is likely to be a scam. It is important not to reply to the email, as well as not to click on any links in the email or open any attachments. If you have already clicked on a link and opened a website, don’t give any personal information out.

Neighbourhood Alert Service: Your local area may operate a Neighbourhood Alert Service, which is used by police and Trading Standards to circulate messages about doorstep crime and scams. Register for free at www.neighbourhoodalert.co.uk

If you think that someone has been scammed or is at risk of being scammed, make sure to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 20 40 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.

We hope you found these tips useful.  To make a suggestion for a future topic, please write to me at [email protected] or by post to Home Instead, 6 Shirley House, Psalter Lane, Sheffield S11 8YL. Alternatively, you can also call me on 0114 250 7709.