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Spotting a Scam Victim: Support for Carers Offered

Do you care for an elderly or vulnerable person?

This February is OFT ‘Scams Awareness’ Month and Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service is providing advice and information to carers and care professionals on how they can spot the warning signs that an individual might be at risk of becoming, or already is, a scam victim!

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection said: “The criminal gangs that organise these bogus lotteries and deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes often target the most vulnerable people in our society.

Those who fall victim not only lose their life savings, but often suffer debt and depression and are too afraid to tell anyone of their plight.

We want to help carers, including relatives and professionals, to not only recognise these mass marketing scams, but be able to identify those at most risk, before it is too late!”

Mass marketing scams typically work by criminal gangs sending out thousands of letters or emails and sometimes making phone calls.

Most people who receive them soon spot the scam, but for the few that respond, they are the ones who are then bombarded with similar scam mailings or phone calls – sometimes more than 100 per week – hounding them for money.

Anyone can fall for a scam but the elderly are often hit hardest. OFT research shows that older victims are likely to lose nearly twice as much per scam as others.

Victims are often socially isolated, over-trusting or afflicted by illnesses such as dementia and can be repeatedly targeted by the scammers.

If you are caring for an elderly or vulnerable person, here are some of the warning signs:

- they may receive lots of junk mail
- have a house full of cheap looking goods such as jewellery or health products
- receive frequent phone calls from strangers, or
- become secretive when discussing finances with family or friends.

In the new edition of Warwickshire Trading Standards ‘Bogus Bugle’ (issue 3), Trading Standards Officers describe what scams to look out for, and how to spot a potentially at risk individual.

For more information, and a copy, please visit http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct for clear, practical consumer advice on 08454 04 05 06