Over 40% of older people have been victims of fraud, data shown to ITV News reveals

Many people experience a deep sense of shame, embarrassment, anxiety and loss of independence following a scam, ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports

ITV News has been the first to report on new fraud figures from Age UK, which the charity described as “shocking”. The scope of scams and the extent of losses is huge and it’s led to calls for government action.

The new research surveyed 10,000 people aged over 50 and reveals an alarming 41% say they have already been scammed in the last five years. The average for those who lost money is £2,022.

Of those who lost money, 22% never recovered it.

To help warn others, Gary decided to tell his story on TV - He’s in his 70s and lost tens of thousands of pounds.

Gary told ITV News about the massive impact the fraud had on his life.

He was befriended in a Facebook classic car group. Gary's partner was seriously ill and his new “friend” had a bitcoin investment to fund a special holiday, he told us.

“You can see your money's rolling in each day or each week or whatever, and you think 'wow, this is superb', but it's all a complete and absolute scam.

"It knocked me for six. These scammers are 100% brilliant in what they do, and - I hate to say it - yeah, I fell for it.

"I just genuinely do not want anyone else to go through what I've been through."

Gary says that the closure of bank branches is adding to the problem.

He says in the old days, he would have popped in to see his local bank where he knew the staff and believes they would have warned him of the risks.

The Age UK charity has a grim warning - it thinks these daunting figures are themselves an underestimate because so few older people report scams, John Kamoto from the charity told us. 

“We think it's going to get worse before it gets better because we think, for example, online fraud is a massive factor.

"We think the government needs to go further. We know that a lot of older people are scared of being a victim of fraud, and we do not want older people to be living in fear.”

We filmed in Birmingham at anti-fraud training arranged by BT and AbilityNet - there have been 1,000 similar sessions.

Mohammed Iltaf from BT/AbilityNet told us: “If your first impression is 'this doesn’t look right', it most likely is not going to be right - ask somebody you trust in order for them to investigate it further."

AbilityNet relations officer, Chris Grant, shares some helpful tips on how to avoid being a victim of online fraud

What are the different types of scams?

Scammers can get hold of people's personal and financial information in a number of ways. Some of these include:

  • Phone scams - Scammers can try and call their intended victim pretending to be a reputable company, under the guise of obtaining personal information.

  • Online scams - Just like phone scams, these can involve fraudsters trying to access personal information through methods like email phishing.

  • Romance scams - Romance scammers will try to pretend to be someone they aren't in a bid to gain trust and steal information.

  • SMS scams - Like phone scams, people pretend to be a trustworthy company and send texts to obtain information or download malware onto their phones.

  • Postal scams - Scammers will send written mail that can vary from letters asking for cash, or letters claiming you've won a prize.

What to do if you have been scammed?

  • Take a minute - If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Unable to identify themselves - Watch if someone is unable to provide proof that they’re who they say they are.

  • Asks you to disclose important information - Scammers may ask for bank details or other important personal information or documents.

  • Regularly contacting you - If they’re hassling your relative, contacting them several times a day or speaking to them in an aggressive manner, this could also be an indication that they’re up to no good.

  • Document everything - If possible keep a log of phone calls, emails and texts if you think you have been scammed.

  • Contact your bank - Contact your bank or credit card provider to ensure scammers can't access your money. Each organisation will also have their own fraud team who can provide advice.

  • Report fraud - Contact Action Fraud who can investigate on your behalf.

  • Sign up with a credit agency - It is a good idea to check your credit score. Any changes due to suspicious activity will be reflected in your score. Experian, Clearscore and Credit Karma all provide free tracking of your credit score and will flag irregularities.

For further help and advice visit: BT.com, Age UK, or the Financial Conduct Authority.

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