More than half of all people aged 65 or older have been targets of fraudsters, with a third of those who respond to the scammers thought to lose £1,000 or more.
The startling stats come from Age UK research, which has found that 53% of older people had received a phone call, a text message, an email or something through the post that was a scam. Most of these people failed to report the scams.
Age UK said the recent arrival of “pensions freedom” risked leading to a rise in the number of fraudsters trying to con older people out of their money.
“The idea that anyone would target an older person to defraud them is horrible, but unfortunately it happens and we fear the problem is about to get a lot worse since the opportunities for fraudsters are increasing,” said the charity’s Caroline Abrahams.
“There are a number of reasons for this, including the rising numbers of older people living with dementia and cognitive decline, and the fact that more older people are going online – the internet is a boon for older people but unfortunately it also opens up new possibilities for fraud.
“Some older people are more vulnerable to fraud because they are frail and alone but it is something that can happen to any of us.
“In fact, older people who are financially proficient and avid users of the internet are just as likely to be at risk.”
Ms Abrahams added: “The degree of sophistication used online or over the phone to defraud is frightening, but so too is the brazen approach shown by the perpetrators of more traditional forms of the offence, such as door-steppers who use high-pressure selling tactics.”