More than 100,000 older Scots targeted by phone scammers

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Age Scotland is urging older people and their families to protect themselves from phone scams following the Scottish Government’s announcement of its Nuisance Calls Action Plan.

The charity is supporting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of nuisance calls led by Which? and Trading Standards Scotland.

Research by Age UK shows that “vishing” or phone scams are the second most common type of scam, affecting over one in 10 people aged 65 and over in Scotland.

Twelve per cent of people targeted have responded to a scam, rising to 16 per cent in the 75-plus age group. Of these, 13 per cent lost more than £1000, with 6 per cent losing £5000 or more.

The most common scams include fraudsters claiming to represent pension companies, banks, or energy companies or offering PPI claims. Callers to the Age Scotland helpline have reported being told they owe hundreds of pounds in taxes or talked into giving their bank details over the phone.

Almost two-thirds of people targeted did not report the scam, with 22 per cent saying they were too embarrassed to even tell their family or friends.

Age Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s £50,000 fund to provide call-blocking technology to the most vulnerable people. But the charity says more needs to be done to raise awareness of the issue and protect those most likely to be targeted.

They are highlighting the simple steps that older people and their families can take to avoid falling victim to phone scams.

Keith Robson, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “Unfortunately nuisance calls and phone scams are becoming part of everyday life for older people in Scotland. While people of any age can be targeted, older people are disproportionately affected as they are more likely to be at home during the day and rely on landlines. An increasing number live alone, which makes them much more likely to fall victim to scammers.

“These calls can have a devastating impact on people’s quality of life. We’ve heard of pensioners being scammed out of thousands of pounds. Unwanted calls can also lead to people feeling more isolated, as they’re afraid to pick up their phone.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s action to tackle the scourge of nuisance calls and phone scams. But there is still a lot to be done to protect the most vulnerable people in Scotland. We would urge people to take a few simple steps to protect themselves and their older relatives, and not be embarrassed to report these calls.”

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