03 December 2017

Could your elderly parents be falling victim to scammers?

Royal London offers tips to family members to spot the warning signs this Christmas

3 min read

Helen Morrissey, Personal Finance Specialist
Helen Morrissey

Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings


Royal London is urging families to keep a lookout over the festive season for signs that loved ones may have fallen victim to a scam.

The mutual insurer has launched a guide1 highlighting the warning signs and offering tips on how to tackle the issue. Piles of post hidden away, concern over missing postal deliveries and talk of high returning investment opportunities can all be signs that family members or friends may have been targeted.

However, it can be a difficult issue to broach with loved ones who may not believe they are being scammed. They may also be too embarrassed to admit what has happened to them and be unwilling to tell anyone so family members will need to be patient if they are to get the whole story.

Scam activity has risen strongly in recent years with people being targeted online, via phone/mail and in person. Recent estimates indicate there were 5.8 million incidents of fraud and computer misuse experienced by adults aged 16 and over in England and Wales for the year ending March 20162.

While people of all ages can be targeted it is more likely to happen to older people who may be less tech-savvy or suffering from loneliness. The consequences of being scammed go far beyond the financial. Being manipulated by fraudsters can lead to family disputes and the victim’s mental and physical health can suffer.

Helen Morrissey, Personal finance specialist at Royal London said:

Families have become increasingly geographically dispersed and may not see each other as often as they would like and so tell-tale signs might be missed. Making visits over the festive season can prove to be an important opportunity to make sure all is well with a loved one. Scams can have a terrible effect on someone’s financial and mental wellbeing so early detection is vital if they are to receive the support they need to recover from the incident and give the authorities the information they need to track the fraudster down.

Case study

Royal London spoke to the son of an elderly lady who had fallen victim to a series of postal scams and was receiving many letters every week. While he was able to speak to Royal Mail to get her post redirected and put safeguards in place with her bank he believes there is not enough support in place to help vulnerable people who are at risk of being scammed.

He said:

I just don’t think it is fair how we treat vulnerable people in this position. These mailings amount to organised crime and the issue needs to be brought into the mainstream and escalated. It may amount to small individual amounts of money per week but in the grand scheme of things it still means a lot to those people and adds up quickly to many thousands of pounds. It’s sickening to see the most vulnerable people in our society being preyed upon in this way.

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For further information please contact:

Helen Morrissey, Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £117 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,745 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2018.