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Over 65s targeted by scammers:
Legendary England Footballer Warns Older Generation About the Dangers of Scams

APP Fraud

World Cup 1966 'hattrick hero' Sir Geoff Hurst wants his generation to embrace technology in order to keep them safe from online scams, however, research reveals that 55–64-year-olds receive the most scam communications of any age group.

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Former professional footballer and hero of the 1966 World Cup Final, Sir Geoff Hurst, has set his eyes on a new goal to encourage his generation to become more comfortable with tech and equip themselves with the skills to stay safe online.

Sir Geoff, 82, has teamed up with the BT Digital Skills team and charity AbilityNet to raise awareness of the importance of digital skills for older generations, as BT Group research reveals that 28% of over 65s receive multiple scam calls, texts or other communications each week.

Attending a BT Group digital skills session with a senior walking football club in Bristol, Sir Geoff shared his experience of being contacted by scammers “every day”.

He told the group:

“I bin them straight away if it’s something I’m not familiar with but occasionally there’s one that looks genuine. For example, I got a text message yesterday saying that my TV licence has expired, click here to pay it. I’ve had this one before and I looked at my TV Licence and knew it was in date, so figured it must be a scam.”

As part of his campaign, Sir Geoff wants to ensure that older people don’t allow technology to pass them by, leaving them vulnerable to scammers. Instead, he is encouraging his peers to embrace tech and learn the skills needed to keep themselves – and their money – safe.

Attendees at the session with Sir Geoff shared their experiences of scams – whether they lost money or not – which included:

  • Purchasing scams – in which the victim pays for items that, ultimately, do not exist.
  • Remote access scams – in which the victim is told they need to allow the scammer (usually acting as a service provider or tech support) remote access to their computer or mobile phone, and then the scammer accesses bank details and online accounts.
  • Romance scams – in which the victim is approached online by a scammer posing as a romantic suitor and then gets asked to send money for various fake emergencies.

The BT Group research found that 55 to 64-year-olds receive the most scam communications of any age group and, worryingly, that over 65s are also the most likely to confront scammers once they have been uncovered!

Amy Caton from BT Group warns against this course of action:

“I think you have to admire that spirit, but I would caution people against getting embroiled in further conversations; risking giving more information. I think drawing a firm line under something, ending that conversation and moving on is the way to go”.

While scams are not exclusive to the 50+ age category, and anyone of any age can be targeted, campaigns like those with Geoff Hurst are still vital to raise awareness of the problem in more vulnerable demographics. According to Age UK, “four people aged 50+ are scammed in England and Wales every minute”.

The types of scams discussed by the group fall into the category of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, in which victims are coerced into willingly transferring money out of their bank accounts. APP fraud sees scammers use manipulation and social engineering techniques, such as impersonation, to gain victims’ trust and convince them to hand over their money by bank transfer or card payment.

As well as purchasing scams, remote access scams, and romance scams, APP fraud can come in the form of:

  • Crypto scams – where victims are convinced to invest in cryptocurrency opportunities that do not exist.
  • Conveyancing scams – scammers intercept communications between house buyers, estate agents and solicitors to divert the (often significant) deposit payments to a new bank account in the scammer’s control.
  • Gold scams – victims are convinced to purchase gold either as an investment – only to find out the gold is worthless – or as part of a ‘police investigation’, in which they then hand over the physical gold to the scammers.
  • Investment scams – similar to crypto scams, victims are convinced to invest in ‘low risk, high return’ opportunities that either do not exist or are unregulated.
  • Employment scams – where scammers pose as recruiters (sometimes using legitimate companies and individuals’ names) to convince victims to transfer money for equipment or undertake tasks for ‘tokens’ which they are told they can convert into cash.

In the UK, banks have a duty of care to protect customers from APP fraud by having procedures and systems to warn, detect and prevent scams from happening. However, in a growing number of cases, banks have been found to have failed in their responsibilities to protect consumers, resulting in scammers gaining access to significant amounts of victims’ money.

At TLW Solicitors, we regularly help victims of APP scams recover their losses, even if their bank has refused to compensate.

As emphasised in Sir Geoff Hurst’s campaign to improve technology literacy in older generations, it is key to understand how to keep yourself and your money safe, on and offline, especially if you have been contacted out of the blue.

UK Finance, the UK’s banking and financial services trade association, runs a national awareness campaign alongside the Government called Take Five, urging individuals to stop, take five minutes, and consider whether a request for personal or financial information is genuine.

They outline several steps you can take to help protect yourself from fraud:

  1. Only give out personal or financial information to people or organisations you have consented to and expect to be contacted by.
  2. If in doubt, contact the company you believe you are speaking to directly using a known phone number or email address.
  3. Don’t click on links or download files in an unexpected text or email.
  4. Never feel pressured to make financial decisions or transfer money.
  5. Go with your gut feeling – if something doesn’t feel right or seems “too good to be true”, always question it.

Losing money to an APP scam may be devastating, but it is not the end of the road; there are ways to potentially recover the money lost.

As soon as you realise you have been scammed, report it to your bank and Action Fraud, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Your bank will investigate and, in some cases, will be able to refund some or all of the money lost. However, banks may also argue that the scam is the victim’s responsibility – usually claiming negligence on the victim’s part – and refuse to refund.

In this case, the complaint can be taken to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for an investigation. FOS is an independent, government-backed body responsible for investigating and resolving disputes between financial services institutions (such as banks) and their customers.

TLW Solicitors’ scams and fraud team has a wealth of experience taking clients’ APP fraud complaints against their banks to FOS and securing compensation. The application can be a long, challenging process for individuals who are not familiar with it, especially when banks dispute the decision; the TLW team is here to fight your corner.

Sarah Spruce, Legal Director and Head of the Scams and Fraud team at TLW Solicitors, commented:

“It is great to see Sir Geoff Hurst campaigning for better tech literacy and scam awareness within the older generation. Anyone can be a victim of a scam, but over-65s are particularly vulnerable, and arming yourself with the skills to spot a scam confidently can only be beneficial.

If you or anyone you know find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, you are not alone, and help is available. Get in touch with my specialist team. We can assess your case and make a complaint either directly with your bank or, if they refuse to refund, take your case to FOS.”

We have a specialist APP Fraud team experienced in successfully taking claims to FOS. We understand the time limits and processes involved, and we can deal with complex legal arguments that might arise. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis and can offer you a no-obligation assessment of your refund case.

Please call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete one of the forms below.

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