How to help someone if you think they’re being scammed

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Scams can target anyone, but some people – such as those who are socially isolated or have dementia – may be more susceptible to them. You can help by keeping an eye out for your family, friends and neighbours.

What to look out for

It might not always be obvious if someone you know is being targeted by scammers, but tell-tale signs include:

  • an unusually large amount of junk mail
  • an unusual number of phone calls or visits from strangers
  • a sudden lack of money
  • secretiveness about finances
  • lots of goods being delivered that they don’t seem to need, or unnecessary work being done on their house.

What to do

If you think someone you know is being, or has been, targeted by scammers, try to speak to them about it. It’s not uncommon for people to feel ashamed or embarrassed if they have fallen victim to a scam, so reassure them that this isn’t their fault and that scammers use devious tactics anyone could be taken in by.

If the person has been the victim of a scam, help them to report it to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) if they want to. Whether or not the person wants to report a scam, they could talk to Victim Support (0808 168 9111), a charity providing practical and emotional support to people affected by crime.

If you’re concerned that someone you know might be at risk of financial abuse – for example, a person with dementia who you’re caring for – discuss your concerns with your local council’s adult social services department. For more information, read our guide Staying in control when you’re older.

Help them to protect themselves

A few simple precautions can provide protection from a wide range of scams. Make sure the person is aware of advice on spotting and avoiding scams. You could suggest they read our guide Scamwise, check their bank’s security advice, or take a look at the advice on the Action Fraud website.

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