Scores of Wigan pensioners are falling prey to vile scams to rob them of their savings, it was claimed today.
And figures from Action on Elder Abuse say that this borough’s OAPs are more at risk from telephone and computer fraudsters and bogus officials than anywhere else in Greater Manchester.
Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit themGary Fitzgerald
Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd joined the charity in urging older people and their families to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.
Data suggests that as many as 2,586 older people in Greater Manchester may currently be experiencing this form of crime including fraud, forgery or embezzlement; the misuse of proxy decision making powers; “doorstep crime” such as bogus tradesmen and postal, phone or internet scams.
According to Action on Elder Abuse figures, there are 356 over-65s at risk from financial abuse - a number higher than anywhere else in the Manchester city region.
The charity’s chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: “Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit them. Financial abuse can take many forms – it’s everything from carers or family pilfering money to phone scams and having Power of Attorney misappropriated. Very often, the perpetrator is someone close to the older person, such as a relative or carer.
“So we want to equip older people to protect themselves where appropriate and for those who love them to spot the signs that their older friend or relative may be being abused. Talking about things such as internet safety and ‘stranger danger’ is something we do routinely with our children. It’s about time we took the issue of abuse of older people just as seriously.”
Mr Lloyd said: “We fully support Action on Elder Abuse for raising awareness of this issue and what we can all do to combat it. Abuse does not always take the form of physical violence. We know that coercion, control and financial exploitation are equally abhorrent and damaging. I urge anyone who needs help or is worried about someone to be vigilant and report it to the police.”
The PCC and Action on Elder Abuse have said that older people can help keep themselves safe by:
Checking bank statements regularly and tracking receipts;
Reducing how much money can be taken from an account at any one time;
Having a copy of bank statements sent to someone trustworthy to check;
Limiting the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money;
Keeping important documents and valuables out of sight;
Never letting anyone into your home unless you can confirm their identity or they have made an appointment
Only booking work on a house through ‘trusted trader’ schemes
Treat anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited with suspicion. Banks will never ask you for your account number or pin details.
Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline (080 8808 8141) offering advice on all matters.