There are several warning signs that may indicate a friend or relative is, or is at risk of being, a scam or doorstep crime victim. These include:

  • Large quantities of post, with envelopes containing pre-printed phrases suggesting the addressee needs to act quickly to claim something.
  • Lots of phone calls at all times of the day.
  • Unusual purchases or things the householder isn't likely to need or use, such as large quantities of multi vitamins, health supplements or cheap jewellery
  • Large numbers of direct debits to unusual companies leaving the person's bank account.
  • Evidence of hoarding.
  • Property repairs or improvements that are shoddy, appear unnecessary or are very expensive.
  • Any suggestion the householder is being put under pressure to make a decision or pay quickly.
  • Any suggestion that the person is struggling with money or finding it difficult to buy essentials. Especially if you know they have a level of income that is adequate for their wants and needs.

Top tips

You can refer a vulnerable elderly person that has been the victim of a telephone scam to us for consideration for a trueCall scam call blocker device. Please contact us via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service to refer.

Individuals who may lack the capacity to make financial decisions, for example if they have dementia, are more at risk of become a scam or rogue trader victim. In these circumstances, limiting a person's access to cash and payment methods could help. This could include:

  • swapping a debit card with a cash card (these have limited daily withdrawals)
  • keeping less cash at home
  • not holding a chequebook

Consider displaying 'no junk mail' and 'we don't buy at the door' signs and home security or doorbell cameras to deter cold callers. There are a number of assisted living devices for people with dementia and other memory related problems. An example of this is motion activated recorded devices that can remind people not to open the door to strangers.

Have a conversation with the person about establishing a lasting power of attorney. This can be helpful when an individual is no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Find out more about establishing a lasting power of attorney.

There are ways of stopping or discouraging the sending of scam mail, including returning the letter unopened to sender. In certain circumstances, where an individual is unable to distinguish between genuine and scam mail, it may be necessary to redirect the person's mail for a time. More information about redirecting mail.