The Commissioner is working with older people to identify the most effective messages and imagery to raise awareness about financial abuse, fraud and scams so we can work with key partners, including members of the Wales Against Scams Partnership and police forces throughout Wales, to develop and distribute new, impactful information and resources.
But it’s also crucial we do all we can to help protect older people against financial abuse, fraud and scams.
Older people can be at particular risk of financial abuse, which can involve having money or other property stolen, being defrauded, being put under pressure in relation to money or other property or having money or other property misused.
In addition, older people are also often the target of a wide range of fraud and scams. Criminals use increasingly sophisticated methods to trick people into buying goods or services that don’t exist, or sharing personal information, targeting people by post, phone, text, email and online. This can include:
- Phone calls, text messages and emails impersonating banks, government departments or other organisations and companies requesting payment or personal information
- Investment scams / mis-selling financial products
- Online shopping scams where products are ordered but never arrive
- Other fraud, e.g. fake prize draws, bogus charities, romance scams
The impact of financial abuse, fraud and scams on older people can be significant: apart from the financial impact, older victims often experience depression, withdrawal and isolation from family and friends, as well as a deterioration of physical and mental health.
By knowing the signs that someone might be experiencing financial abuse, fraud and scams, and where people can go for help and support, we can all play a part in helping to protect older people.
Signs that an older person might be experiencing, or at risk of, financial abuse, fraud and scams include:
Unusual Financial Activity: Sudden changes in spending patterns, unexplained transfers or withdrawals, unpaid bills or missing valuables may indicate financial abuse or fraud is occurring.
Unsolicited calls and emails: An increase in calls or emails could indicate that an individual is being targeted by criminals or scammers.
Reluctance to discuss finances or seek help: If an older person is reluctant to discuss their financial situation or is hesitant to seek assistance, it could be a sign that they are dealing with a scam or fraud.
Unexplained gifts or purchases: Unexplained purchases or gifts that appear after sending money to unknown individuals or organisations could suggest an individual is being financially exploited.
Changes in willingness to take risks: Scammers often exploit a person’s willingness to take risks. So if you notice a significant change in someone’s attitude towards taking financial risks, it might be helpful to investigate further.
Other risk factors for older people include digital exclusion, loss of capacity, social isolation, and greater trust / lack of scepticism.
If you notice any of these signs or think an older person might be at risk of financial abuse, fraud or scams, offering support in a sensitive, non-judgemental way could make a big difference.
This could include encouraging someone to report an incident, supporting someone to improve their security arrangements, or helping someone to find information about types of fraud and scams to look out for.
Advice and Support
The following organisations can provide a range of advice and support if you are concerned about an older person:
Live Fear Free
24/7 helpline offering advice and support, as well as support via text, live chat and email.
0808 80 10 800 // https://www.gov.wales/live-fear-free
Hourglass provides information and support to older people or anyone concerned about an older person via its 24/7 helpline, text, email and online chat.
0808 808 8141 // https://wearehourglass.org/hourglass-services
Get Safe Online
Provides practical advice on how to protect yourself and your computers and mobile devices against fraud and scams.
Not sure where to turn for help? Contact the Commissioner’s Advice and Assistance Team.