In the first seven months of 2021 alone, over €15,000,000 were stolen from people in Ireland through fraud. Unfortunately, elderly people are the most targeted group when it comes to scams. Scammers are even taking advantage of current crises to steal money from unsuspecting consumers. Furthermore, around 68% of consumers claim to have been targeted by scams in the 12-month period leading up to July 2021. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some advice to help older people avoid scams and protect themselves. Read on for our top tips.
Tips for Older People: How To Avoid Scams
Nowadays, scams can take place on the doorstep, through the post, over the phone, or online. Therefore, it’s important to be on your guard whenever something seems unusual. You can never be too careful, after all.
1. The Golden Rule
Perhaps the simplest way to avoid scams is to remember this golden rule.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Doorstep Scams
A common tactic of scammers is to knock on the door and ask for money under false pretences. They might pose as a tradesman or charity worker, or even emergency services. If anyone comes to your door and asks for money for any reason, you should immediately be suspicious.
Don’t hesitate to ask for an identity card to prove that they are who they say they are. Alternatively, feel free to close the door and call the company or charity they claim to be from.
If you hear an unexpected knock at the front door, it might be wise to lock the back door and any other outer doors. Some criminals will use one person to keep you busy in the front doorway while someone else sneaks in through the back to steal money and other items.
Above all else, if you feel unsafe or under pressure, do not hesitate to call for help. You could turn to a relative or friend, or go straight to the police.
3. Postal Scams
Be on the lookout for common postal scams, including:
- Lotteries and prize draws which tell you that you’ve won a cash prize. They will usually tell you to call a number to collect your prize, at which point you will be charged a fee, and will never receive the fictional prize.
- Letters which tell you that someone has left you money in their will. The letter could claim that the deceased person is your distant relative. Even if the letter looks convincing and bears the logo of a real law firm, you should do some very thorough research before you even think about responding. It might be worth contacting your local Garda Station to see if other people near you have also been targeted.
4. Telephone Scams
Telephone scams can be hard to spot. The more you know about the usual tricks of scammers, though, the more likely you are to avoid scams.
One of the most common telephone scams is when someone calls you claiming to be from your bank. They might tell you that there is an issue with your account and ask you to confirm your account details or card number. Your bank will never ask for this kind of information over the phone. Do not share any of your information over the phone.
Cold calls are an annoyance to us all. Some might offer you compensation for an accident or pose as a tax official and say that you owe money.
If you get a phone call which you suspect to be a scam, never give out any information (they could ask for card information, passport details, or other personal data).
Feel free to put the phone down at any time. If you are unsure, why not call the organisation that the caller claims to be from? Just make sure you find the correct number yourself. Either search for the organisation online or refer to a recent letter or the phone book.
5. Online Scams
Unfortunately, internet scams are more common and convincing than ever. Always err on the side of caution, particularly if you are still finding your feet with the internet.
In order to avoid scams online, be wary of:
- Suspicious emails and direct messages – these might claim to be from someone you know, a distant relative, the government, your bank, or another figure asking you for money/information. Also be on your guard for any unexpected emails with attachments; clicking on an attachment like this could infect your computer with a virus.
- Fake websites – the website’s address might look like the real thing, but there will often be subtle differences from the real URL. If you ever see a link that looks suspicious, it’s much better to do a separate search for the website and click on a link you know is safe.
- Pop-Ups – pop-up messages could tell you that you have won a competition or that your computer is infected with a virus. Do not click on a pop-up unless you know for sure that it is legitimate.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from online scams and fraud is to choose secure passwords for all your online accounts, and update them regularly. If you want to write your passwords down on paper, make sure you store them somewhere safe and secure in your house. For an even more secure approach, use a password manager tool, such as Dashlane.
Staying Safe With Lifeline24
It’s important to avoid scams and stay safe from fraudsters, but what about protecting yourself from injuries and falls at home? A Lifeline alarm can give you and your family peace of mind, letting you carry on with your daily life safe in the knowledge that help will always be there.
For more information about our life-saving service, call us free on 1 800 937543 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer, you can also fill in the Contact form on our website, and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as we can.
In the meantime, why not read our guide to the Lifeline alarm?
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 10th March 2022 to reflect current information.