Financial scams aimed at older people are opportunistic: Older people spend more time at home, increasing the likelihood of opening the door or picking up the phone when a fraudster calls. In addition, older folks may be more trustworthy and have more disposable income.
Loneliness also has a role. If your parents or grandparents spend most of their time alone or isolated, they may be delighted to get a phone call, email, or instant message from someone eager to discuss current events and hear about their day – even if the caller is a stranger. These so-called “romantic scams” prey on socially isolated older people.
The average sum of money stolen in Ireland by fraudsters is €1,005, but the figure rises to €1,320 among older people aged 55+ and is almost six times the amount stolen from young adults aged 18-24, which totalled €228. On average, a third (33%) of Irish people say they have lost money to a fraudster.
Social Media Scams
If someone has posted personal information on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, others may have access to it. It’s not simply apparent information that’s at risk; a snapshot of a driver’s licence, for example, could offer others access to certain sensitive information. Even stating that they are on vacation can alert fraudsters that they are not at home. This allows them to spy if they know where that person lives.
Social media platforms are fantastic for helping older people maintain social connections, but it’s important to take precautions to keep the older people safe on social media.
How To Tell If You’re Being Scammed
It all depends on the type of scam being perpetrated. In general, though, there are a few crucial things that you can warn older folks about:
- If someone cannot produce proof that they are who they claim to be.
- If someone requests your bank account information or other sensitive personal information or papers.
- If they’re bothering your relatives, contacting them multiple times a day, or speaking to them aggressively, it could be an indication that they’re up to no good.
Permanent TSB’s Leontia Fannin said: “There is a clear message in our research that financial fraud is a significant threat and that it is often being targeted at groups that may think they are less vulnerable.”
“Awareness of financial fraud is strong but scams are getting more sophisticated, and we need to continue to be on our guard.”
Surprisingly, younger people living in Dublin appear more likely to be victims, according to behavioural scientist Claire Cogan.
“Our research shows a pattern to financial fraud that may surprise people,” she said. “Reassuringly, we see people are responding to advice to be vigilant. Two-thirds say they would not trust an unsolicited call, text or email even if it came from a well-known brand, and over eight out of ten agree their bank would never send a text message asking them to click on a link.”
The most common types of financial fraud are “vishing” (phone call/voice message), “smishing” (text message) and “phishing” (email).
Check out the infographic below which takes a further look into “Protection Against Scammers For Older People.”