News and Notices

Protecting the vulnerable from fraud

Although anyone can fall for a scam, some people are more vulnerable and likely to be targeted by fraudsters because of this.

People who can be especially vulnerable to scams include older people and people with mental health problems, learning difficulties or dementia.

Staff working within the NHS regularly meet some of the most vulnerable members of society, and can sometimes be that person’s only regular point of contact with the outside world. It is therefore important that you can spot the tell-tale signs of scam abuse.

Below are some of the most common signs. Do they:

  • receive a lot of junk mail?
  • have a house full of cheap-looking goods such as jewellery and health products?
  • get frequent calls from strangers?
  • become secretive when discussing finances with you?

Tips to prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims of a scam:

People are often embarrassed to admit they’ve fallen for a scam or don’t believe they have been conned. But following the advice below can help them –

  • never give out their name, address, bank account details or any other personal information;
  • speak to you before replying to any offer;
  • never trust someone who says they’ve won a prize;
  • don’t ring any number they are given to claim a prize; &
  • never send money to anyone to claim a prize.

What can a vulnerable person do if they have fallen victim to a scam?

Report it to Action Fraud (details below). They provide a special service, alongside Victim Support, for carers to report scams on behalf of a vulnerable victim. The victim must be one of the following:

  • under 17;
  • have a mental health problem or learning difficulty; or
  • have a physical disability.

The website address is www.actionfraud.police.uk and the telephone number is 0300 123 2040.

They can also:

  • report the scam to Trading Standards;
  • talk to their local branch of Age UK, their local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, or to a relative, friend or social worker. (To find your local branch of Age UK, go to: www.ageuk.org.uk);
  • register with the Telephone Preference Service - phone 0845 070 0707, or go to www.tpsonline.org.uk; and/or
  • register with the Mail Preference Service - phone 0845 703 4599, or go to www.mpsonline.org.uk.

If you have any concerns regarding fraud, bribery or corruption in the NHS, please contact our Counter Fraud Specialist, Penny Gee on 0115 883 5323 or email penny.gee@nhs.net