Social isolation is one of the factors that means people can fall victim to a scam. Vulnerability is fluid and complex. People themselves are not vulnerable, it’s their circumstances or the marketplace that put them in that position. Social isolation can make people more situationally exposed and therefore potentially susceptible to fraud and scams. Since the pandemic, we’ve expected most people to go from ‘bricks to click’, understanding complex information and navigating the internet, with no education or training all whilst potentially being socially isolated.
Anyone can be a victim of a scam. Rightly research, conducted among over two thousand adults across the UK, found that almost half of Brits (48 percent) have fallen victim to one, or come close, with over a third (37 percent) losing money as a result.
There are groups of people who are particularly targeted or vulnerable. Raising awareness of common scams and groups of people who are often targeted is an important step towards encouraging behaviour changes that tackle the issue.
Older people are often targeted by scammers. Research has found that 75 is the average age of reported scam victims, and those over 70 suffer the greatest impact from a number of different scams.
Older people tend to be most susceptible to falling victim to phone and mail scams. Figures from the National Trading Standards Scam Team show that they’re deliberately targeted more so than other demographics. This group also sees the largest proportion of people who are recurring victims of scams.
Those who are socially isolated can be the hardest to reach and often aren’t able to access the same support, advice and help that other people can.
People that are scammed and are socially isolated are less likely to report scams, but they often suffer greatly, not just in the amount of money lost, but the overall impact on health and wellbeing.
READ MORE: Urgent scam warning: Fraud email from PayPal imposters – check for four tell-tale phrases
These people are not always treated as victims of crime. Scams and fraud victims are targeted by organised crime groups and are defrauded out of what is often their life savings. They are also left with the mental scars of being a victim of crime.
However, they are still not treated the same as someone who is mugged in the street or as someone who is burgled. This needs to change; we need to take away the shame and the stigma of being scammed to increase reporting and awareness.
Retired people don’t have the same opportunity to make up for their losses as younger people, and they often don’t have the same support networks and access to them.
Therefore, the focus related to scams and fraud should always be on the harm this crime has caused an individual, not on age or money lost.
We need to build community resilience and increase our knowledge and prevent this from happening to our mums, dads, and neighbours.
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Prevention is far better than cure, so we need to work together to educate people on how NOT to become a victim.
Let’s look out for our neighbours and local people and check for the tell-tale signs of financial abuse and fraud.
It is never easy for anyone to talk about financial matters.
And it can be especially true and more difficult for elderly relatives to discuss “money” with their children, as they might be concerned about loss of control of their financial affairs.
Scammers will use these concerns as pressure points to prevent the relative to talk to friends or family members about what is going on.
So now we’re inviting you to get on the scam wagon and help us highlight this problem!
Get involved. Please join us in our Stand Against Scams and become a Friend Against Scams at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk.
Remember: If you’ve received a text you think is a scam then you can forward to 7726 or take a screenshot and send it to email@example.com.
If you’re receiving lots of unwanted phone calls or text messages you can also consider removing your details from data brokers, ensuring that you use a right to object to processing of your data.
You can learn more about this on Rightly to stop the sharing of your data exposing you to scams.