Scams often promise high investment returns, lucrative and guaranteed prizes of cash or holidays. Fraudsters convince with letters, emails and websites which appear genuine, often with testimonials from supposed winners. Other scams encourage a person to telephone an extortionate premium rate number to claim their ‘guaranteed prize’.
According to the National Trading Standards around one in every fifteen UK adults fall prey to a scam each year, with a third tricked again within a year. The average age being 74.
There is often a huge stigma attached to being a victim of fraud, as people feel they ‘should have known better’ and ‘cannot believe they fell for it’. No-one likes to admit they have been hoodwinked and for many there is immense shame, with victims not wishing to tell their family and friends. Often those living alone and elderly are more vulnerable as they do not have anyone to check if correspondence is genuine and to ask a second opinion.
Aside from the overtly fraudulent scams, many people are simply sold insurance, policies and products which they do not need. Many elderly people feel panicked into buying products even though they may have existing cover in place.
A simple free step to reducing unwanted correspondence is to sign up for the Mail Preference Service (www.mpsonline.org.uk) which prevents the receipt of unsolicited direct mailings sent from member companies of the Direct Marketing Association. Similarly, the free Telephone Preference Service (www.tpsonline.org.uk) prevents unsolicited sales or marketing calls and it is a legal requirement that all organisations do not make calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.
Perhaps the greatest fraud prevention takes the form of a Lasting Power of Attorney and at Hassall Law we encourage all clients to prepare Powers of Attorney to empower loved ones to prevent and identify fraud, especially where elderly relatives may live away from the support of immediate family. With the consent of the person making a LPA (or should they lack capacity), the attorney can assist and manage financial matters, preventing fraud.
Please contact us for further information on protecting your family and preparing Powers of Attorney, whether for a distant or vulnerable relative or simply to have peace of mind should you suffer from accident or illness.