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Frauds and scams against the Elderly

16 December 2019

Frauds and scams against the Elderly

Financial fraud is rife this time of year. That’s because the holidays can be a peak season for fraudsters who capitalize on the generosity of their victims. Although financial abuse can affect anyone, it is thought that older individuals are targeted because they are assumed to have more money and are perceived to be more vulnerable than younger people.

This holiday season it’s imperative you and your more vulnerable loved ones are equipped to spot the signs of a scam.

Charity calls

Fake charity calls or someone claiming to be a grandchild or other relative looking for money are particularly popular among fraudsters – pulling at heartstrings of their victims. The pitch is wrapped in sympathy inducing requests for year-end, tax-deductible holiday donations. These Grinch’s stand ready to take your credit card or check routing information and charge you for bogus Nutcracker ballet tickets, or a holiday charity fundraising event.

Avoiding Charity fraud:

  • Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
  • Then, call the charity directly. Ask if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.

Don’t overshare

It’s great to share good times on social media, but think before you post: is it really necessary, and could it provide confidential information for a fraudster? Also, posting that the family is out or away for a seasonal break is a big clue for burglars that your home is empty. Posting photos of your kids is creating or adding to their online presence and need to be shared with great care. Take a few minutes over the break to update your privacy settings to ensure that you only share your life and special moments with only those who you know and trust.

Grandparents scam

Fraudsters scour the internet and your social profiles to find something personal about you and or your family. One popular form of this is a fraudster calling up claiming to be the victim’s grandchild. They claim they are in trouble and feign an emergency in order to extort money using a variety of ploys including needing money for police bail.

However, sometimes the abuse comes from inside the house…

The holidays have become very expensive resulting in a lot of financial stress. It’s important to ensure your vulnerable and elderly loved ones are being treated with respect this season and no family or friends take advantage of their generosity.

Out and about with connected devices

If you’re out socialising or staying at a hotel, don’t use public Wi-Fi hotspots if you’re doing anything confidential online, as you can’t assume they’re secure. Keep the devices themselves secure as they can make attractive targets for thieves.

Worried you’ve been a victim of fraud?

If you have paid with a credit card you may be able to claim your loss under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you lost monies through the use of a debit card, you may be entitled for reimbursement via 'chargeback' which is when you dispute a transaction to secure a refund.


Scams are fraud, fraud is a crime. Always report fraud or cyber-crime to police via the national call centre entitled Action Fraud. Action Fraud may be contacted by phone: 0300 123 2040 or online


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