ELDERLY people are being urged to 'Take Five' in a bid to avoid becoming victims of fraudsters in the run-up to Christmas.

Merseyside Police, in a partnership with Age UK and Age Concern, are advising anyone who answers the door or phone to people they don’t know to spend five seconds asking themselves if the person they are speaking to is who they say they are, and if they may be trying to defraud them.

As part of the campaign, flyers and posters will be distributed in doctor's surgeries, supported accommodation and other key areas along with stickers to place on phones and near front doors as a reminder to 'Take Five'.

Fridge magnets with warnings and advice will also be given out.

Every year in the UK, millions of adults fall victim to a scam and the majority of those targeted by fraudsters are over 55 years of age.

The advice is, as follows: Stop, take five seconds and think

  • Be wary of unexpected callers, either at the door or on the phone in case it's a scam
  • Never let callers into your home without checking their ID
  • Don't immediately agree to any offer or work without first seeking advice
  • Don’t share your personal or financial details with someone that calls out of the blue

Detective chief inspector Dave Rooney said: "Defrauding anyone is a heinous and despicable crime – but to target older more vulnerable people is particularly upsetting and absolutely shattering for victims and their families.

"In some cases victims have worked hard their entire lives, with a view to enjoying their retirement or passing their savings on to family, only to be preyed upon and see their savings taken.

"Their good and trusting nature can be ruthlessly exploited by criminals, and we are determined to prevent as many incidents as possible.

"This campaign is about urging people to take some simple steps to try to avoid becoming a victim of such a crime, and to reassure them that there are services there to support them.

"We want people to have the confidence to say 'no' at an early stage if they have any suspicion someone may be trying to scam them.

"If you have, or are being subjected to fraud, or feel like you, or someone you care for, is being scammed, please get in touch."

Mark Lunney, CEO of Age UK Mid Mersey, said: "Fraud and scams are one of the most devastating things that can happen to any one of us.

"In fact, doorstep scammers commonly target older people. 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over according to national trading standards.

"Age UK Mid Mersey is delighted to be working with partners across Merseyside to launch the 'Take Five' initiative campaign, being held at The Mansion House in St Helens on Wednesday, November 28.

"As an organisation we are passionate about raising a greater awareness of the harm caused and in supporting older people who may be vulnerable to scams of any kind."

Take Five Poster

Merseyside Police has also worked closely with Barclays bank, who have employed established a nationwide network of ‘Digital Eagles’ to provide free technology guidance and support to both customers and non-customers.

As well as providing basic digital skills training, Digital Eagles provide more advanced sessions such as cyber, fraud and coding to community events, corporate team days and training sessions.

A Merseyside Police Community Support Officer has been working closely with branches in Merseyside to offer support to the community in the run up to Christmas, with a focus on online fraud.

Anyone who is concerned that they may be a victim of this type of crime can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

For advice on dealing with uninvited rogue traders, or bogus callers, to your home, you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 0506

If you're suspicious, or think you have been a victim of a scam, call the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.

For more information on phone scams, visit: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/scams-fraud/phone-scams/