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According to AgeUK, every year 1 in 12 older people fall victim to scams and the cost of living crisis has made the situation much worse.
AgeUK is working hard to raise awareness of the increase in Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams, especially among the older generations. APPs are when you are persuaded to transfer money from your account into the fraudster’s account or an account under their control. An APP scammer might pose as someone official from the government, your bank, a medical body or even the police. Millions of pounds have been lost this way.
AgeUK is collaborating with UK Finance on a scheme called Take Five to Stop Fraud which is national campaign offering advice on what to do if you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam.
If you think you’ve been offered a great deal, don’t agree to it immediately. A genuine offer is unlikely to require an instant decision. Ask your family and friends what they think or call an advice agency such as Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
Before you commit to buying, check the seller. Does the company have a contact number that works and a postal address, and is it a member of a trade association? Financial companies must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – you can check at www.fca.org.uk/register or call 0800 111 6768.
If you answer the door to someone you don’t know, ask for an identity card and check it. You could phone the company they represent to check who they are. Think about putting up a notice saying you don’t buy on the doorstep. If you’re suspicious or the caller won’t leave, call 999 and ask for the police.
Ignore unsolicited invitations such as letters, emails or phone calls offering a brilliant investment or saying you’ve won a lottery. Ignore them and never reply – it shows your details are active which will encourage scammers to contact you again. Contact the Mailing Preference Service on 0845 703 4599 to have your name taken off UK direct mailing lists. Check your email account is set up to filter spam.
If you feel pressured to transfer money and you are worried then contact Take Five and report it. Even if the call is from a trusted organisation, if you have any doubts DO NOT PAY and report them. If it turns out it is a legitimate request they will understand that you need time to be sure before paying.
The rules allowing people to access their pension pots from age 55 have brought with them more scams. Be cautious of anyone that claims to know about loopholes, talks about overseas investments or says you can get your money before age 55. The FCA lists current scams at www.fca.gov.uk/scamsmart. For suspected pension scams call The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047.
Visit the Government’s Pension Wise website for free and impartial guidance on your pension options.
Anyone can be taken in by a scam, so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you. If you think you’ve been scammed, or you’ve spotted a scam contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it and get help.