The force is working with the largest local charity supporting older people to educate those at risk and to support victims.
Fraudsters purposefully target older people as some can be extremely vulnerable and may not recognise scams or know how they can avoid falling victim again.
It is thought an older person falls victim to fraud every 40 seconds in the UK. To tackle the issue, Nottinghamshire Police’s fraud and cyber protect teams are training staff and volunteers at Age UK Notts on the most effective measures to prevent older people falling victim to scams.
Staff and volunteers then pass this knowledge on to older people through various means and methods, such as scam awareness presentations, home visits and phone calls.
The ‘Close the Door on Crime’ project started in April last year and has already educated nearly 900 people.
Katherine Coggan, strategic director (housing) of Age UK Notts, said:
“Since the start of the collaboration, over 700 older people have received scams information and a free avoiding scams booklet.
“In addition to that, 175 people have been educated through presentations and events. We know this project is making a big difference; of 200 older people surveyed following our education session, 98 per cent confirmed it had raised their awareness and confidence to recognise a scam and almost a quarter (22 per cent) agreed that the session had helped them to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.
“Online safety and identifying scams is vitally important, so much so that children as young as five years old are taught at school how to be safe online but there is a massive gap at the moment in providing support to educate older people.
“By working in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police, we’re helping older people recognise the hallmarks of a scam, whether it be online, over the phone or a tradesman turning up at the front door and this is making a real difference in preventing older people falling victim to scams.”
David Pick is among those who has benefited from the project. In September, he arranged for an Age UK Notts advisor to give a Scams Awareness presentation to the Together at Arnold senior citizens group, which is part of the Wainman Trust.
Mr Pick, assistant coordinator at Together at Arnold, said the presentation helped attendees understand what they need to do to avoid falling victim to a scam.
“It was a very helpful presentation. We have members in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and many of them are active on the internet and have mobile phones. It is tricky for them to recognise a scam but the presentation really heightened their awareness.
“In the past, it was easier to spot a scam – you’d get a leaflet in the post saying you’d won some money and it was obvious it wasn’t genuine. Modern scams seem to be a lot more sophisticated and every week things pop up in your email and on your phone.
“The presentation really helped us understand the signs to look out for.”
As well as helping to educate older people, Nottinghamshire Police is also referring victims to Age UK Notts to ensure they receive the support they need, as the impact isn’t just financial. Scams can affect older people’s social independence, their confidence, their mental and physical wellbeing and their future safety.
Fiona Price, fraud and cyber protect officer at Nottinghamshire Police, said the partnership was helping ensure that older people receive the support and advice they need.
“Sadly we regularly receive reports from the elderly who have fallen victim to fraudsters.
“Fraudsters target people of all ages and backgrounds, however they do tend to prey on the most vulnerable members of our society. We are in the process of delivering training to Age UK staff so they are then able to pass on the advice we give to protect the elderly from fraud over the phone, through the mail, on the doorstep and online.
“We are hopeful that this new initiative, in partnership with Age UK Notts, will assist us in not only helping people to cope and recover if they have the misfortune of falling victim to fraud, but also help us to prevent more of the elderly from falling victim to fraud in the first place.”
Kirsty Jackson, cyber protect and prevent officer at Nottinghamshire Police, said much of the training delivered to Age UK Notts had centred around cyber security...
“We wanted to highlight risks around reusing the same, weak passwords, including passwords that contain family, pet names or date of births and the extended risk of account compromise if the extra layer of security called ‘two-factor-authentication’ has not been enabled.
“They have learnt how to change, manage and strengthen passwords, as well as how to enable two-factor authentication.
“We have also covered in detail key trends we see both across cyber and fraud, so that the team can help protect those vulnerable to these scams.
“We cannot reach those harder to reach communities alone so by providing key information across Age UK staff, we hope they will have the knowledge to help us spread key protect advice and to assist in important behaviour change to help protect those most vulnerable.”
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).