Scamming and its Effect on Vulnerable People

I recently spoke in a debate in Westminster on scamming and its effect on vulnerable people. I find it deeply concerning that the elderly and vulnerable are at high risk of being targeted by scammers. The financial and emotional repercussions of these scams can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and more needs to be done to address the issue.

It’s a sad reality that in this day and age people are increasingly being targeted with scam calls, post and visits. It has been estimated that the annual cost of fraud against individuals is around £9.7 billion and according to research done in 2015, 53% of people aged 65+ believed they have been targeted by fraudsters.

A particular worry of mine is the amount of people who respond to communications. Once somebody has responded to communication they will, due to weak data protection regulations, be inundated with many more.

It is not just the consumer who is solely responsible for checking the reliability of goods, services or incentives being offered to them, the Government of course has a role to play. As well as improving data protection regulations, they must ensure that all agencies, including banks, recognise their duty of care to the most vulnerable and introduce sufficient safeguards.

They must also ensure there is sufficient investment to support those who have fallen foul of such crimes. Sufficient investment also needs to be made available to groups such as trading standards, whose good work in tackling scammers is being undermined by budget cuts that restrict their potential.

Despite the shared responsibility, I must however urge my constituents to err on the side of caution.  If a tradesman knocks on your door to say that you need surprise repairs, just say no. If someone tries to convince you that you have won a lottery that you did not enter, just say no. If someone tries to persuade you to make a risky investment with your pension, just say no.

I found it reassuring that the debate was well turned out by Members from both sides. There appears to be common ground and a recognition that something needs to be done. I will continue to press the Government where I can, but please remember that it is down to us all to be vigilant.

 

To view the debate in its entirety, please follow this link. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-09-08a.507.1&s=speaker%3A11267#g513.1