According to the findings of a recent study that was carried out by the charity Re-engage and the University of Portsmouth, two out of every three older adults have been victims of scams in the past year. This has led to increased levels of dread and melancholy and, in some severe cases, suicidal ideation.
Scams Targeting Older People
This study is one of the most thorough surveys of its kind, with 1,177 participants, and it sheds light on the widespread problem of scams that target older adults.
Approximately one-fifth of individuals surveyed reported being the target of attempts to trick them on a weekly basis, and forty percent said they were approached illegally on a monthly basis. The use of telephones, both landlines and mobiles, as well as text-based means, is the most common approach taken in these cons.
Because of this concerning trend, the organization Re-engage, which is committed to reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by those aged 75 and older, has issued a call for immediate action.
The report highlights the fact that fifty percent of the senior population polled does not use the internet, and seventy percent of them have never engaged in online banking, citing fears about the possibility that their computers or accounts could be hacked as a key concern.
Over three-quarters of the participants are women, and the majority of them live alone (approximately 80%). Reactivate calls for comprehensive training for professionals, such as medical experts, social workers, and bank employees, to spot symptoms of vulnerability to scams among older adults.
In addition, the charity is requesting that the government and any other pertinent organizations provide funds for high-quality call blockers that are specifically designed to safeguard older adults from scams of this nature.
Read More: Phishing Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Them
Emotional Toll of Scams or Scammers
“The scale of intimidation and fear unleashed on older people by these scams and frauds is really shocking,” said Laura Joplin, head of impact at Re-engage, expressing concern about the emotional impact that these scams have on older adults.
She continued by saying that “it is causing tremendous distress,” and that “many of those we spoke to are simply too terrified to answer the phone because it could be someone trying to steal their money.”
This contributes to the feeling of isolation that they have, which in turn lowers the quality of life that they have. Joplin pointed out that prompt action is required to provide them with the appropriate level of protection so that they are no longer kept prisoner by a string of persistent frauds and may have a sense of safety and security in their own homes.
Professor Mark Button, who is also the co-director of the Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime at the University of Portsmouth, recently brought attention to the fact that victims of fraud do not always disclose the incident because of the associated shame and the lack of help they receive. Button underlined how important it is for there to be more people aware of the issue.
In one of the accounts provided by interviewees, a woman who was 80 years old described how she had emotions of unease and a sense of being dangerous in her home as a direct result of receiving bogus phone calls and messages.
Another person, this one handicapped, described the mental toll that is taken on them as a result of the persistent harassment of unpleasant hoax calls. The findings of this study highlight how urgently this problem needs to be addressed; older people need to be protected from fraud, and awareness needs to be raised to prevent additional victimization.