Bucks Trading Standards are appealing to residents who already watch out for their vulnerable neighbours to keep an eye on the levels of mail delivered.
Some of the typical signs of victimisation are:
• Almost always elderly, often over the age of 80.
• Often lonely, socially isolated and recent bereavement can be a trigger.
• Unusually high quantities of mail.
• Secretive about their mail and finances.
• Living in clutter.
• Hiding mail around the house.
• Denying there is a problem with scams despite evidence to the contrary.
• In possession of cheap looking goods, products including, health products and toiletries, trinkets, charms and foodstuffs.
• Reluctance to involve family members in their situation.
• Getting through cheque books unusually quickly.
• Regularly visiting the post office and/or keeping lots of stamps.
FACTS AND FIGURES
• In the past two years 97 mail type scams have been reported to Buckinghamshire Trading Standards with known losses to the victims of £148,524.
• Average losses amount to £1,531 per victim.
• The ‘Think Jessica’ charity states that mass marketing scams cost UK citizens £3.5 billion a year.
• In 2008 a survey conducted by Help the Aged and Barclays revealed that seven out of ten older people in Britain - more than 6.6m people – are targeted by scams every month, either by telephone or letter.
• In a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2012, 76 per cent of people living with dementia claimed to have difficulties managing their money.
• The Trading Standards Institute state that just five per cent of scams are reported.
• The Office for Fair Trading estimates that the average amount lost per person every year is £850 (Office for Fair Trading, 2006).
• Around 40% of carers in the Alzheimer’s Society research reported that the person that they care for had been regularly targeted by scam mail.
• In a survey of Alzheimer’s Society staff 84.7 per cent of staff identified well recognised scams (e.g. winning a pretend lottery abroad) as a sign of financial abuse.