Don't fall for a scam like I did, warns OAP who nearly lost £1,000
A pensioner who fell victim to fraudsters has warned people about the dangers of giving out their bank details.
Hazel Bland from Saintfield, Co Down, was taken in by a PPI scam and nearly lost £1,000.
The retired secretary got her money back after she threatened legal action and informed the fraud agency - but not everyone is so lucky.
A report launched today by the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament reveals that almost one in four people here have been scammed.
The staggering statistic is based on the experiences of hundreds of older people in Northern Ireland and shines a light on the extent of the problem.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Bland (67) said she had been "too trusting" after seeking reassurances that no money would be taken from her account.
"A man called and said I was owed £8,000 in PPI and I gave him my bank details because he said they were needed to allow the company to make the payment," she said.
"It was only when I got a statement a couple of days later that I saw £990 had been debited from my credit card. I was completely shocked.
"The company only issued a refund when I told them I was going to my solicitor and Trading Standards."
The report found that older people are prone to software scams and fake emails and scammers are most successful when targeting older people online or by telephone.
One in 10 older victims of scammers lost more than £1,000 and it emerged that romance or dating scams were the most common, resulting in a high value financial loss.
The report findings will be discussed at the 2017 Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, organised by Age Sector Platform charity, which kicks off in Belfast today.
Mrs Bland said her experience taught her a valuable lesson and added that she is now much more confident in spotting scams.
"I recently received an email saying that I am due £253 in a tax return but I won't be falling for that," she said, adding that her three grown-up sons have since educated her "about what goes on".
Ivan Baxter from Age Sector Platform said there have been a series of frightening reports of older people in Northern Ireland being scammed out of thousands of pounds over the last year.
"It's easy to think that would never happen to me, but our research shows many older people are falling victim to scams even though they feel confident in their ability to spot one," he said.
"It only takes one moment of hesitation or misplaced trust to fall victim to a scam that could result in huge financial implications for your retirement for years to come.
"Age Sector Platform is part of the Scamwise NI initiative, which aims to raise awareness of scams so people can avoid becoming a victim."
For more information, or to report a scam, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni.