Stopping someone vulnerable from being scammed
Scams are schemes to con you out of your money. They can arrive by post, phone call, text message or email or from someone on your doorstep turning up at your home, when you are not expecting them.
Although anyone can fall for a scam, some people are vulnerable and more likely to be targeted.
People who can be especially vulnerable to scams include older people and people with mental health problems, learning difficulties or dementia.
If you are a carer, relative, friend or neighbour of someone who is vulnerable, you might be the only person who can stop them from being scammed.
Read this page to find out what to watch out for, some tips to pass on and where to get help.
What to watch out for
If you know or look after someone who could be vulnerable to scams, keep an eye out for the following signs. Do they:
- receive a lot of junk mail?
- have a house full of cheap-looking goods such as jewellery and health products?
- get frequent calls from strangers?
- become secretive when discussing finances with you?
You can ask them if they have received any unusual mail or phone calls. Try to do it in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary alarm.
If you are aware of a current scam in your area, make sure the person you know or look after knows about it and hasn’t become involved.
What help can you give?
People are often embarrassed to admit they’ve fallen for a scam or don’t believe they have been conned.
Reassure the person that it’s a common problem, that scammers are clever and that all sorts of people get taken in by them. To help keep them safe from scammers ask them to:
- never give out their name, address, bank account details or any other personal information
- speak to you before replying to any offer
- never trust someone who says they’ve won a prize
- not ring any number they are given to claim a prize
- never send money to anyone to claim a prize
- help them to ask Royal Mail to re-direct their post either to you or another trusted friend or relative
- help them sign up to the free Telephone and Mailing Preference Services, which cuts down unwanted phone calls, texts and post.
Report a scam to Action Fraud. They provide a special service, alongside Victim Support, for carers to report scams on behalf of a vulnerable victim. The victim must be one of the following:
- under 17
- have a mental health problem or learning difficulty
- have a physical disability.
The website address is www.actionfraud.police.uk and the telephone number is 0300 123 2040.
You can also:
- suggest the victim talks to their local branch of Age UK, their local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, or to a relative, friend or social worker. To find your local branch of Age UK, go to: www.ageuk.org.uk.
- find out more about registering with the Telephone Preference Service - phone 0845 070 0707, or go to www.tpsonline.org.uk
- find out more about registering with the Mail Preference Service - phone 0845 703 4599, or go to www.mpsonline.org.uk