Nationwide Building Society is today announcing it will partner with national older person’s charity Independent Age to provide additional support for older members who fall victim to a scam.
Analysis of the Society’s data shows that a quarter (25%) of all scam victims are aged 65 and over. The new partnership, which comes as part of the Society’s aftercare for scam victims and Independent Age’s ongoing commitment to helping older people with their finances, will provide ongoing support for older members who may feel vulnerable after falling victim to economic crime and who may now be left in financial hardship, particularly during the current cost-of-living crisis.
The most common crime amongst this age group is impersonation scams, which account for 61% of all cases. This scam plays on the trusting nature of older people by convincing them they are speaking to their bank or building society, the police, HMRC or even a family member (i.e. WhatsApp scam) in order to convince them to send them their money. If someone aged 65 and over falls victim to an impersonation scam, they are likely to lose more than twice (52%)1 the amount of money than a younger victim.
As part of the Society’s partnership, members will be directed to the Independent Age free helpline. Callers to the national helpline can receive help and support with their finances and benefit claims as well as advice on a range of topics related to later life, including care and support, and health. The service can also be used to provide guidance and advice to family, friends and professionals, such as carers. The helpline is available Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) between 8.30am and 6.30pm.
Education remains a key defence in protecting people from scams, which is why Nationwide is sponsoring Independent Age’s Scamwise leaflet. This aims to raise awareness of the signs of scams and how older people can best protect themselves. The leaflet will be available in the Society’s branches and is also available digitally on Independent Age’s website and shortly on Nationwide’s website.
Jim Winters, Director of Economic Crime at Nationwide Building Society, said: “Every day, we see the devastating effects that scams can bring to people’s lives. As well as the financial impact, which can see people losing life-changing amounts, there is the emotional toll which can leave people feeling vulnerable. Our partnership with Independent Age will allow our older members who fall prey to a scam to receive ongoing support with both their financial and wellbeing needs as well as continuing our efforts to educate people about scams so they can hopefully prevent themselves falling victim to the crime in the first place.”
Fran McSweeney, Head of National Services at Independent Age, said: “Sadly scams are a growing problem, especially for people over 65 who can be regularly targeted. We hear from people who have lost thousands of pounds to scammers, they often feel ashamed and are left incredibly anxious about how they are going to make ends meet, especially as the cost of living continues to increase.
“It’s important to remember that support is out there. That’s why we’re pleased to partner with Nationwide Building Society. By working together to expand our service we will be able to provide emotional support to more older people when they are at their most vulnerable. Our welfare advisers can check to see if there is any extra financial support available, and importantly, through our Scamwise guide, we can reach more people over 65 with top tips on how best to protect themselves from a scam.”
Any older person who is worried they may have been scammed, or anyone concerned about an older family member, can contact the Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789.
Notes to editor
1 Nationwide data shows that impersonation scam victims aged 65 and over lose an average of 52% more than those aged 35-44 who fall victim to the same scam – an average loss of £2,118 v £1,021.
Denis Robinson, 85, from Nottingham, is supported by Independent Age. Denis, a former journalist, has been targeted five times by five different scammers.
He said: “The most spectacular scam was when I had a glossy leaflet through my door advertising gardening services for older people. It looked professional and as a result I didn’t think to check how much the person would charge. After two hours’ work, he told me I owed him £2,300 and said he’d be in trouble with his boss if I didn’t pay up. I was numb with shock. Luckily I didn’t have that amount of cash in the house so said I would need some time. He was going to come back two days later, but I contacted the police and never heard from him again.
“I’ve also had someone knock on my door, demanding money for work they had done on the outside of the house while I was out, and someone who stole £100 from me after asking me if I had change for £5.
“You can feel foolish when it comes to scams, and the scammers can be so brazen. It’s important to know how to protect yourself, and to have the emotional support there if needed.”