Katy Bourne, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex, has made tackling elder exploitation one of her top priorities in a bid to protect older people in the county from financial abuse.
She says: “We know that fraud against our older and more vulnerable residents is a growing issue as our population ages and criminals see that fraud is more profitable and less risky than other crimes. In Sussex, fraud has robbed some older people of their entire life savings and left others destitute.
“I have been lobbying the Government to take account of demographics when calculating the amount of funding that is allocated to each police force and to acknowledge the rise in crimes against our elderly.
“The operational response from Sussex Police has also been excellent. They have developed Operation Signature to help protect and support those most at risk of fraud, and the model has been nationally recognised and is being adopted by other police forces.
“The problem is that many people don’t realise that they’ve been a victim of fraud – they think it’s just a scam, or they feel foolish and don’t want to tell anyone. But scams are fraud and fraud is a crime so I really would urge anyone who’s affected by doorstep crime, postal fraud or nuisance calls to report it.”
You can call the police on 101 or report fraud by speaking directly to the advisers at Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, by phoning 0300 123 2040. They will also be able to give you help and advice about fraud and you can remain anonymous if you prefer.
UK-wide charity Action on Elder Abuse operates a confidential helpline on 080 8808 8141 which offers advice and support on all aspects of elder abuse.
Trading Standards also want to know about online fraud or mobile phone scams; any information you share may help them shut down fraudsters before others fall victim to them. You can report incidents, whether you’re a victim or have just been targeted, via the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 0345 404 05 06.
You can sign up for Katy Bourne’s weekly newsletter at www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/spcc-newsletter/