Simon Read: 'The elderly and people moving home are vulnerable to scammers'

Crooks like to prey on older people they hope are more likely to fall for stings

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The Independent Online

Are you on a scammer's "sucker" list? National Trading Standards has identified about 200,000 people who are, and warns that the average age of victims is 74. That highlights the fact that crooks like to prey on older people they hope are more likely to fall for their clever stings.

It reports that its scams team has saved consumers more than £5m in the past three years by spotting crooked activities, but said its investigations had uncovered 10,843 victims who lost an average of £1,184 each. The figures have been released as part of Scams Awareness Month – the campaign to warn people of the dangers of financial fraudsters.

Citizens Advice figures show that two in five of postal scams are lotteries or prize draws, inviting people to claim a prize for a competition they have not entered.

Louise Baxter, team leader of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: "We really need the public to help us with this by being vigilant about mass marketing scams, and also looking out for relatives or neighbours, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable. We often find victims who have lost hundreds of thousands over several years. The impact on individuals and consumers is devastating."

Anyone who receives potentially fraudulent mail should report it to the Royal Mail helpline on 03456 113413 or to email

Meanwhile, if you're moving home, be careful you don't leave yourself open to ID fraud. One in 10 home movers are putting themselves at risk by allowing sensitive mail to continue being sent to their old homes, the Royal Mail warned this week.

One trick is to gain access to communal areas of blocks of flats and check the mail: it's usually obvious if someone is no longer there by the pile of letters going back weeks. "Re-directing your mail when you move home will help make a fraudster's job much more difficult," advises Simon Dukes, of Cifas, the fraud prevention specialist.

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