Have you ever gotten an email from a certain prince, whose name you can hardly pronounce, and hails from a relatively unknown country asking for your help in transferring his funds to a certain bank account? Or have you ever been informed that you have been included in a will of someone you have never met in your life and that you are supposedly set to inherit millions? Did you ever get a notice informing that you won the lottery even if you have never bought a ticket? If you said ‘yes’ to any of them, then you are one of the millions of people worldwide who have been targeted by scammers and hopefully you are wise enough to not fall prey to it.
It’s quite unfortunate, however, that there are still people who have been victimised by so many different kinds of scams and not just the ones I mentioned. Scams happen not only online but also offline as well, many of which come up as possible “investments”, such as start-up businesses and real estate, and unfortunately, many of the people who fall victim to these scams are the pensioners. Many of these scammers specifically target us pensioners as they see us as the more gullible ones with our ‘pension pots’. I have heard about and read so many horror stories of people getting conned by these people and some of the worse cases were those of pensioners who end up homeless after getting scammed and losing all their money.
Victims of scams not only lose financially but their health is affected as well. Most of these victims suffer emotional trauma and feel ashamed, helpless, and blame themselves for what happened. In turn, they suffer sleepless nights and are hardly able to eat because they keep dwelling on what happened.
The government knows that no matter how many scammers they catch and put behind bars, there will still be future victims unless people are made aware of this problem and this is why there is a “Scams Awareness Month” each year. For 2015, it happens this July with the theme “Don’t be Rushed, Don’t be Hushed.” According to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, “The campaign aims to stop people being rushed into hasty decisions by scammers and to end victims being hushed into silence by a sense of shame, foolhardiness, or weary acceptance. Throughout July we will look at the four key channels used to conduct scams including telephone, online, mail and doorstep scams.”
Constant vigilance. I cannot stress that enough. If something involves our hard-earned money, we should be watchful and find out where it will go and how we can get it back. If a deal seems dubious and too good to be true, then it probably is. No investment can give you £1,000 in one day for an investment of just a few pence. We should also remember that, technically, nothing is free in the world so if you get a call or post saying that you won something, verify it not just once or twice but multiple times. Once you get the message that you have to pay or give something for you to get your price, then that is most likely untrue and is a scam that so many people have fallen for.
If you unfortunately become one of the victims, please do not hesitate to report it. No one will judge you for it because you are a victim. By reporting it, you will be actually helping other people be made aware of how these scams go about and catch these perpetrators and stop them from having more victims. If you are uncomfortable talking about it in front of others, you can send an email to Citizens Advice ([email protected]). Their website also includes tons of information on scams that we should all check out.
And remember, constant vigilance. It will go a long way.
Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.
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