Online safety is something we're constantly telling kids – don't speak to people you don't know, don't open any dodgy looking emails, and don't give out personal details. This is all well and good, but online scammers are still finding victims to get money out of every day.
Whilst the younger generation are growing up with internet security being drilling into them to create a tech-savvy attitude, the older generations seem to be have been forgotten, and because of this they become the ones that are more regularly the victims of online crime.
Anyone can be a victim of online crime, with it being estimated that around £10 billion is lost every year in the UK alone because of cyber scams. Age UK reported that 43% of older people believe they have been a target for scammers.
The very fact that older people are more likely to live alone is a point that fraudsters look out for because it is a potentially lonely and vulnerable victim that they can take advantage of.
Scams can come through a number of sources: face-to-face doorstep conversations, over the phone, through the post, and on the internet – so now more than ever we need to know how to protect ourselves.
Angela Ramsay is a perfect example of how fraudsters targeted someone out of touch with technology and unaware scamming techniques.
"I was a 57-year-old lady living alone and was very happy in my new home. I loved my job and was financially secure after being left some money in a will from a lifelong friend. I had a lovely new man in my life, all was perfect. Then I was scammed."
Angela was called at work from a number claiming to be Nationwide's fraud team, when she checked the number that had rung, it matched up with a number listed online as Nationwide, so she thought everything was fine.
When they rung her back later on, they told her someone was attacking her account in the West Midlands. When she questioned their legitimacy, they reassured her that they were the number listed on the back of her bank card. She then got an email which began the process of them taking her money. They told her they were moving it to safe accounts.
The next morning, she rung the number that had called her, which put her through to Nationwide, she wanted to check everything was okay. They didn't know what she was talking about.
"I broke down and screamed. I didn't know what to do. I was feeling sick, a fool, ashamed and very depressed."
After 3 months of persistent phone calls and questions, Angela managed to retrieve £53,000, leaving scammers with £14,000.
"I know I was very lucky to get that back, but I had to fight for it."
Improving education on scamming
Angela admitted that she knew nothing about scammers and the techniques they used, and this is where the problem lies.
Education around scamming and online fraud needs improving, because although there is plenty of material online, not everyone has internet access, and as a result, it tends to be those people that are the easiest targets.
Increasing the production of physical material in branches to educate people on scams means that more people can be aware of the warning signs and stop things like this happening.
What are the warning signs?
It can be hard to spot a scam but following these steps could prevent you becoming the next victim of this modern crime.
It is out of the blue?
If a company calls you randomly, make sure you verify who you are talking to before giving them any information. Ask them to give you details that only that company would know. If you're not convinced, then hang up and call the company directly. It is always better to be over cautious.
Too good to be true?
This is very simple, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Phone scammers work by getting personal information from you. No matter how small the detail is, it could be exactly what they need to steal your identity and go on to steal your money. Never share personal details with someone that can't verify who they are.
If a company is putting a time pressure on you to make a decision, that is when alarm bells need to be ringing. Anyone that tries to rush you should not be trusted.
Being the victim of a scam has a massive effect on your life, financially and emotionally. Following these simple steps and improving the education around scamming can stop people becoming victims of these cyber criminals.
This article is written by guest author India Wentworth firstname.lastname@example.org