Older people more likely to be victims of fraud, study shows

Older people more likely to be victims of fraud, study shows

One-third of Irish people say they have been scammed out of money, with older people more likely to be victims of fraud, a new study shows.

A survey from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland reveals that the average sum of money stolen in Ireland by fraudsters is €1,005.

That figure rises to €1,320 among people aged over 55 and is almost six times the amount stolen from young adults aged 18-24.

The BPFI survey comes as Fraud Awareness Week got underway yesterday.

Helping to launch it was former government Minister Mary O’Rourke, who revealed that she, herself, has been a victim of fraud on a number of occasions.

Urging older people in particular to talk to family and friends about their concerns and remind young adults that they have a sounding board in older relatives, she said: “I myself have 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. My advice, especially for older people, is to learn the warning signs so that you can act at the time."

The survey shows that 22% of older people are targeted at least weekly by attempts to defraud them.

It also reveals that over 55s are most likely to report fraud attempts to the authorities, with 38% contacting their bank and/or gardaí. This compares to just 14% of young adults aged 18-24.

Niamh Davenport, who leads the BPFI FraudSMART programme, said the survey still shows reluctance among some older people to ask a family or friend for a second opinion if something looks suspicious.

"We all know someone who has been scammed, young or old, but it's only by checking with each other that it becomes easier to spot the trends and tell-tale signs of fraudsters at work," Ms Davenport said.

Also supporting this year's Fraud Awareness Week is Active Retirement Ireland, as advocates for retired people striving to live full and active lives.

Kay Murphy, president of the association, said: “Notwithstanding the fact that fraud happens and the sums of money involved are significant when it does, it’s encouraging that many older people are proactive, especially when it comes to speaking up and taking measures to protect themselves from scams."

The study shows that older people are most likely to be targeted via email (37%), but phone calls to landlines accounted for 28% of fraud attempts among the group.

The survey found that 13% said they had got rid of their landline or changed 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.

But over 55s were the slowest to realise when money or personal details had been stolen. On average, 37% of Irish people noticed within 24 hours compared to just 26% of older people.

Despite this, older people reported taking more proactive measures to protect themselves from fraud online and in-person and 68% now keep a closer eye on their bank account compared to younger adults at 42%.

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