13
Jul

Victims of Mail Crime Amongst the Elderly. A True Story.

Lisa Cable Read 177 times

Spreading the word about mail and cyber crime amongst the elderly is something that is close to my heart as my Nan (Nanny Wales) was a victim of mail crime. Sadly, working with many older people in the community I am struck by the amount of scams that are out there and so we feel passionate about helping families support their elderly relatives, should they find themselves being targeted.

Nanny Wales

 

Mail crime can start small

Once our family became aware that Nan was a target by scammers, she was already a victim of the crime, often sending small amounts of money on the promise of a large lottery payout or some other fake incentive. She was being targeted on a large scale receiving multiple letters a day requesting money, personal information, specimen signatures and bank account/card details, including her security code.

National Trading Standards estimate that mass mail scams cause approximately £3.5bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. However, the financial cost is only part of the story, it can also have a significant impact on the victim's emotional well-being and health.

Impact is financial and emotional leading to poor health

The emotional impact of scam mail is very real and is often something that scammers prey on to make sure their scams are successful. After talking to my Mum and Nan about this I know that she felt conflicted by the letters, she felt excited to receive the letters and all that they promised. The contents of the letters prayed on her biggest hopes and deepest insecurities, drawing her in to provide money and information for the hope of winning money to provide for herself and her family.

Is it too good to be true?

On the other hand, Nan knew that perhaps it was all too good to be true and so kept it to herself. This is something that scammers rely on to keep the scams running, with National Trading Standards estimating that only 5% of scam crimes are reported.

Once someone has responded to a scam mail they become even more of a target. The criminals will often sell their personal details to other scammers, further increasing the problem and making them more vulnerable.

Help protect your elderly relatives

Action against this crime is therefore imperative, to protect our friends, families and especially those that are vulnerable in society.…. So what can you do to help protect your elderly relatives?

Prevention is best, so talking to your elderly relatives about scams to raise their awareness is a good start. It’s also a good idea to explain how other people have been impacted to help highlight the issue. Ask your relatives if they receive any mail they are unsure of and if they would be happy to share it with you to help you identify whether it’s a potential scam.

How to identify scam mail?

National Trading Standards provide the following guidelines in identifying scam mail (although be aware that the perpetrators of this crime are often redesigning and repackaging the scam mail all the time to avoid detection):-

  • A foreign or unrecognised return address
  • An offer of a payout in return for a small purchase or admin fee
  • Request for personal details in order to claim a prize
  • A letter claiming you have won a lottery you didn’t enter
  • A letter from a psychic or clairvoyant offering their services for a fee
  • An offer that seems too good to be true

Who else can help?

If you do identify any potential mail scams, then these can be reported in a number of ways.

  • You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06 www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/
  • If the scam was received through email you can report this through Action Fraud’s website www.actionfraud.police.uk/
  • If you receive written correspondence you believe to be scam mail, you can forward it to Royal Mail with a covering letter to: Freepost Scam Mail, PO Box 797, Exeter EX1 9UN.
  • You can also email scam.mail@royalmail.com or call them on 0345 611 3413 to discuss or report scam mail

There is also the Mailing Preference Service which allows you to have your name and address removed from mailing lists which may help to stop scam mail. The service is free and you can register by calling 0845 703 4599 or visiting www.mpsonline.org.uk.

Please keep the conversation going on scam mail. Ask how Radfield  Home Care can help your elderly relatives to be aware and open when it comes to scams.