Half of all Scots who are targeted by scams are over 65, according to new research published today (Monday) as Scams Awareness Month enters its third week.
The campaign is being run by Citizens Advice Scotland and a coalition of partners including Police Scotland, Age Scotland and Trading Standards Scotland. Its aim is to highlight the dangers of scams and to give people the information and confidence they need to fight them.
Today we reveal the results of a recent survey* of Scots about their experience of scams.
- In all, 42% of those polled had experienced at least one attempted scam over the last year, and 50% of these people were over 65 - a higher proportion than any other age group.
- 61% of these older Scots had been targeted via their landline, 62% via email.
- 51% had been targeted by a computer repair scam, 27% by an injury/accident claim scam and 35% by a fake tax refund.
- 90% of this age group did not in the end lose money to these scams. The other 10% did, though some were able to get their money back by reporting the scam to the police, Trading Standards or the Citizens Advice network.
In publishing this research, we are urging older Scots to be vigilant and sceptical of any offers that seem ‘too good to be true,’ and also to report any scams they do come across.
Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Derek Mitchell says,
“The research shows that older Scots are a favourite target for scammers. Thankfully it seems most of these scams are unsuccessful, but every one which does succeed is one too many,
“Scottish CAB advisers see some very distressing cases of older people losing significant amounts of money, often their pension, or their savings. It is not just the financial loss that is damaging - the person can experience embarrassment and loss of confidence as well.
“So we are urging people to be vigilant and follow our tips on how to spot and avoid scams. The main thing is to be very cautious about any apparent bargain. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
Superintendent David Pettigrew of Police's Scotland National Safer Communities says,
"We will work hard with our partners to not only help those who are targeted, by setting up Cold Calling Zones or visiting social clubs and community centres for instance, but also to educate their neighbours, family and friends so they can be vigilant too.
"Our recent Operation Monarda campaign in May helped to spread the awareness message and I'm very pleased to support CAS as they continue to highlight how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from scammers.”
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive says,
“Scammers are becoming smarter and more advanced every year and can have a devastating impact on older people. Nearly a third of pension income every year in Scotland can be lost to fraud, often leaving people embarrassed, fearful and more vulnerable. We want to empower older people with the tools to protect themselves and encourage people to report these crimes to the police.
“If you report a scam or attempted fraud, you can help protect others in your community as this helps the police and fraud protection organisations become more responsive to the current trends and raise public awareness of these crimes.”
Cllr Elena Whitham, Chair of the Trading Standards Scotland Governance Board, says,
"Sadly, older Scots are all too often deliberately targeted by ruthless individuals. So I warmly welcome the joint approach being taken throughout Scams Awareness Month this year. Without question, partnership working is absolutely crucial to ensure we tackle scams effectively.
“However, we as citizens can also play a part by speaking to our friends, family and neighbours, informing them of the vast range of scams being utilised to try and con them out of their money. By working to create strong communities we can ensure that those targeted, especially those who are most vulnerable, are equipped to say no and are aware that advice and support is there if they require it."
OUR TOP 5 TIPS ON HOW OLDER SCOTS CAN BEAT THE SCAMMERS
- Be wary of all tradespeople on your doorstep and thoroughly check their ID. Genuine traders won’t mind you being sceptical.
- Be cautious too with unexpected phone calls, letters or emails. Don’t respond to pressure or let them rush you.
- If you are unsure about an apparent bargain, tell them you’d like some time to think about it, then do some research about the company, e.g. look for them online, or ask your friends and family what they think.
- Remember you can get free advice on scams from your local CAB, or from our special consumer helpline 03454 040506.
- If you do come across a scam, report it to the police or to Trading Standards – and tell your family, friends and neighbours about it too. That’s how we will stop the scammers!
* These statistics are taken from a weighted survey of 2,010 Scots conducted for CAS by Progressive Partnership in March 2018. A total of 42% of those polled said they had been targeted by at least one scam in the last year, and 50% of those were over 65. The other figures above are taken from that sub-sample. More details of the survey are available on request. NB it was an anonymous survey so we don’t have any case studies available for interview.