Scammers target more than 400,000 older people in Scotland

New research has revealed that marital status and age are key in how older people respond to scams.
New research has revealed that marital status and age are key in how older people respond to scams.

More than 400,000 older people in Scotland believe they have been targeted by scammers, according to new research.

Of the 41.3 per cent of people targeted, nine per cent said they had responded to a scam. It was found that the marital status of the person affected their response, with 27 per cent of single older people responding compared to nine per cent of those who were married.

The findings, by Age Scotland and Age UK, coincide with Scams Awareness Month and show how people respond to scams according to marital status.

Of those who had previously been targeted, 16 per cent of single older people paid scammers money, compared to just six per cent of married people.

More than a fifth of single people (22 per cent) said they had provided personal information compared to two per cent of those who are married.

Age also played a key role in the findings which showed more people aged over 75 pay-up or give personal or financial information to the scammers.

The research also showed 70 per cent of older people in Scotland who had been targeted by scammers did not report it.

Around two-fifths (42 per cent) confided in friends and family and a quarter admitted they did not tell anyone because they felt too embarrassed. The vast majority of those who did report a scam, however, said reporting it was a positive experience.

Age Scotland has warned that older people lived alone or with cognitive impairment left them at at risk of being targeted.

In addition to victims experiencing serious financial losses, evidence shows that being taken in by scammers can seriously affect quality of life and well-being. Symptoms include embarrassment, shame, depression, social isolation and a decline in physical health.

Keith Robson, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “Scams can have a devastating emotional and financial impact on older victims, seriously damaging their quality of life and well-being. That anyone would target an older person to defraud them is abhorrent yet it happens all too often.

“Everyone has the right to feel comfortable, safe and secure at home, yet there are an increasing number of sophisticated scams designed to cheat people of their money, empty their bank account or steal their identity.

“We are urging all older people, and their friends and families, to be vigilant and get up to speed on how to avoid scams.

“If there is any doubt about the authenticity of an offer or piece of correspondence, do not respond and report it to the authorities immediately.”

Age Scotland offers free information and advice for anyone who is worried about being scammed, including free guides Avoiding scams, Staying safe and Internet security among others. To order free copies or for details of other Age Scotland guides, including information and advice needed, people can call the Age Scotland Helpline on Freephone 0800 12 44 222 or visit www.agescotland.org.uk