Don’t rush financial decisions elderly warned

Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action UK, and Noreen Bates from Larne.
Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action UK, and Noreen Bates from Larne.

Age NI and the PSNI Economic Crime Unit have teamed up with Financial Fraud Action UK to host a ‘Take Five over Tea’ event, to encourage people to better protect themselves, and older people they know, from financial fraud.

The event, which is being held as part of the Take Five campaign, included keynote speaker and fraud prevention expert, Tony Blake who led leading a panel discussion with Eddie Lynch, The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Stephen Crooks, PSNI Economic Crime Unit, Beverley Burns, Trading Standards NI and Brenda Kearns, Age NI Advice and Advocacy Service.

Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action Uk, Cheryl Elliott from Ballymena and Brenda Kearns, Age NI.

Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action Uk, Cheryl Elliott from Ballymena and Brenda Kearns, Age NI.

Duane Farrell, Age NI charity director, said: “Financial fraud is a very real and growing problem and many of us will know someone who has fallen victim.

“Our advice and advocacy service hears from many older people who are concerned about scams. The financial exploitation of older people is very serious and extremely harmful and we believe that we must work together in order to prevent it and reduce the numbers affected by such devastating crimes.

“Age NI welcomes this Take Five over Tea event to help raise awareness of financial fraud and scams. This event will speak directly to those who may be a target of fraudulent activity and will provide an opportunity to find out how we can keep ourselves, and older people we know, safe from potential fraud by learning five easy fraud prevention tips. The message will be clear – take five to stop financial fraud.”

Tony Blake, fraud prevention expert, Financial Fraud Action UK, said: “Many people already know the dos and don’ts when it comes to sharing personal details, but it is easy to forget if you feel pressurised or rushed into sharing information.

Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action UK, Pat Stewart, from Jordanstown, and Duane Farrell, Charity Director Age NI.

Tony Blake, Financial Fraud Action UK, Pat Stewart, from Jordanstown, and Duane Farrell, Charity Director Age NI.

“We hope the event with Age NI and the PSNI Economic Crime Unit will encourage people to take five – to take that moment - to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests and share any personal or financial details. We also hope people will be encouraged to share the advice with friends and family who may be at risk of falling victim to financial fraudsters.”

Stephen Crooks, PSNI Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are pleased to be working with Age NI and FFAUK to help promote the Take Five campaign. Unfortunately as a detective in PSNI Economic Crime Unit, I come across many harrowing reports of fraud affecting the community, many of whom are older people, or vulnerable.

“These incidents occur throughout Northern Ireland. The losses sustained are often life-changing and by the time the fraud is reported it can be too late to recover the money.

“It is far better to avoid being the victim of ruthless scammers. Follow the simple, but valuable advice of Take Five. Take your time, over any decision. Don’t disclose information about yourself, or finances – If you did not instigate the contact, be wary. Listen to your instincts, as they are normally right. Seek advice from people you trust and check out what you are told.

“The Take Five Over Tea event is a light-hearted way of putting across a simple, yet important, fraud prevention message and we hope that it has a wide reach across the community.”

Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, said: “Financial abuse and the specific issue of scams, is a key priority for my term. Older people who fall prey to scams often lose huge amounts of money but the impact of scams is more than just financial. It can have a serious impact on the older person’s mental health and well-being, and damage their sense of trust, security and independence. I would encourage all older people to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. They shouldn’t be afraid to hang up on unknown callers and put junk mail straight in the bin.”