How can we protect the vulnerable from scams and fraud?

As we age, it is a fact that we are more likely to experience circumstances that increase the risk of vulnerability, be it bereavement, cognitive decline or physical difficulty with daily living. As a result it becomes harder for these vulnerable consumers to protect themselves from fraud. Although anyone can fall prey to a scam, regardless of age, gender or economic background, older people are often targeted by particular scams and may be especially at risk because of their circumstances. Someone who has been successfully scammed is often targeted repeatedly.

According to Age UK, the average age of mail scam victims is 74, and over half of people aged 65+ believe they have been a target of a scam, with the majority of fraud incidents relating to bank and credit card fraud. A third of older people who fell for a scam may have lost £1,000 or more.

For anyone, but perhaps particularly an older person, a scam can have a terrible financial and emotional impact, with people losing their entire life savings. Whatever the amount though, such a situation can impact a person’s physical and mental health.

The link between age and vulnerability has to be acknowledged and understood by credit providers. That said, we must remember that neither age nor disability should automatically be equated with vulnerability. Many older people are more than capable at managing their financial and personal affairs, and would not wish to be seen as vulnerable.
We believe at the VRS that financial institutions should improve efforts to identify customers at risk of fraud and scams, and find more effective ways to help people to protect themselves from it happening to them. One of the ways available to them is the VRS database, whereby organisations who are signed up are notified that a customer is at risk, and promoted to take extra steps to protect you from fraudsters.

More information can be found here about what to do if you think you have fallen victim to a scam, or if you or someone you are caring for is looking to protect themselves from becoming the target of fraud. Registering yourself or someone you care for on to the VRS is Free.

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