The average sum of money stolen in Ireland by fraudsters from older people is €1,320, according to a new survey.
A new FraudSMART survey from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) today reveals that over one-third of Irish people say they have lost money to a fraudster.
The average sum of money stolen is €1,005 but this figure rises to €1,320 among people over the age of 55.
Meanwhile, the average amount stolen from those aged 18-24 is €228.
The survey comes as Fraud Awareness Week gets underway (September 23-29) with people encouraged to ‘check, chat and challenge’ a loved one on the issue of financial fraud scams and identity theft, especially our youngest, oldest and most vulnerable family and friends.
The new survey looks at the issue from a generational perspective for the first time and reveals the following trends: One in five (22%) older people are targeted at least weekly by attempts to defraud them, making them just as likely to be targeted as young adults, underscoring the fact that fraud can and does happen at any age. Over 55s are most likely to report fraud attempts to the authorities, with 38% contacting their bank and/or the Gardaí. This compares to just 14% of young adults aged 18-24. Almost half (45%) of older people make a point of telling family, friends and colleagues about their experience. Significantly, they are the only age group not to report feeling embarrassed for being targeted by scammers in the first place. Older people are most likely to be targeted via email (37%), but phone calls to landlines accounted for nearly one in three (28%) fraud attempts among the group. More than one in ten (13%) reported getting rid of their landline/changing their phone number to help combat the issue. While calls to mobiles (20%) and text messages (9%) are also an issue, older people are no more susceptible than any other age group to fraud committed by a “person calling to the door” at just 3%. Over 55s were slowest of all age groups to realise when money or personal details had been stolen. On average, one-third (37%) of Irish people notice within 24 hours compared to just one in four (26%) older people within the same timeframe. Older people reported taking more proactive measures to protect themselves from fraud online and in person. More than two-thirds (68%) now keep a closer eye on their bank account (versus younger adults at 42%). More than a third (36%) regularly change passwords on email and online accounts they use regularly compared to younger people (18%). In addition, 40% of older people said they avoid using public wi-fi, almost double the figure for young adults that responded (22%).
Niamh Davenport, who leads the BPFI FraudSMART programme, said that the results show that there is still a reluctance among older people to ask a family member or friend if something looks suspicious.
Former Government Minister Mary O'Rourke said that she has been targeted by scams over the years.
"From calls to my landline looking to fix a problem with my computer to emails pretending to offer tax refunds," said Ms O'Rourke.
"My advice, especially for older people, is to learn the warning signs so that you can act at the time. My grandchildren are in their teens now and their age group is just as susceptible as mine.
"It really is an issue that affects all of society, so I am delighted to launch Fraud Awareness Week and be part of the national conversation on such an important topic."