A Lasting Power of Attorney could help protect the elderly and vulnerable against fraud

During Covid-19, a new epidemic has started to take hold; the rise in online crime - and our elderly and vulnerable are particularly at risk.

During the first lockdown in March 2020, fraudsters took advantage of social distancing rules to set up scams to unwitting victims. Their medium of choice seemed to be the telephone, as well as online, to dupe people into handing over cash or personal details.

According to a recent article in the Telegraph victims are being scammed via methods such as impersonation fraud - where people pose as individuals from legitimate organisations to encourage others to hand over details or money. In a pandemic, where people are in lockdown, working remotely or isolating, it can be difficult to check whether these people are actually who they say they are - and it’s costing innocent people thousands of pounds.

In fact, according to the article in the Telegraph, victims lose an average of £4,000 from criminals impersonating organisations like the NHS.

What’s more, UK bank fraud nearly doubled in 2020 despite the banks putting several security methods in place. It seems scammers are using better technology to evade banking systems - but it still relies on the individual handing over sensitive information in the first place.

For those of us who have an elderly or vulnerable relative, it can be worrying as to whether they are being protected and whether there is more you can do to protect them. Even more so if you know a particular relative is living in fear of scammers - like this recent story in the Times.

Sadly, there is nothing you can do to stop anyone handing over money to scammers. Banks will only deal with the account holder so if you tried to stop any cheques or other transactions on behalf of someone else you would not be able to. You will also find this with any other institution - such as water, gas and electric companies and council tax.

Without the right legal documentation, you will not be able to intervene if you are worried about scammers targeting your loved ones, so the best thing to do is get a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This allows a nominated person, an “attorney”, chosen by an individual, the “donor”, to act on their behalf if they become unable to do so. Not only will this protect them in the event they are unable to handle finances for bill payments, but scammers will not be able to get their hands on any money without speaking to you first, once you, as attorney, have helped to reorganise the donor’s finances as needed.

For more information about LPAs, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

 

More blog posts from this author

Q&A: Can I invest on behalf of my mum?

Q: My elderly mother has just gone into a nursing home. I have a financial Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) which currently enables me to act on her behalf to look after her financial affairs. Her memory is getting worse, some dates are better than others, she is not safe though living in her home. 

Should the bank of mum and dad consider a declaration of trust as a condition of gift?

My husband and I are considering giving my son a gift of cash to buy his first house with his fiancée and her two daughters. The gift would be quite a sum and we are worried about what might happen in future if my son were to separate from his partner. Would she be able to profit from our gift and what can we do to protect it?

More blog posts from this sector

Q&A: Can I buy mum’s house under market value?

Q: Since my father passed away two years ago, my mum has been considering downsizing to a smaller property that is more manageable for her in older age. She currently lives in a four bedroom property with a large garden in an area that my family and I are unable to afford to live in. My mum then made a very generous offer and said my wife and I could purchase her property at a significantly discounted rate, so that we could live there with our two children, but still allow her to downsize. It seems like a win-win situation, but, is there any reason why I wouldn’t be able to purchase mum’s property under market value?

Should the bank of mum and dad consider a declaration of trust as a condition of gift?

My husband and I are considering giving my son a gift of cash to buy his first house with his fiancée and her two daughters. The gift would be quite a sum and we are worried about what might happen in future if my son were to separate from his partner. Would she be able to profit from our gift and what can we do to protect it?

Our Team

Meet all of the team at Downslaw


Cobham

15A High Street
Cobham
Surrey
KT11 3DH

T: 01932 589599
F: 01932 505087

DX: 46102 COBHAM

Dorking

156 High Street
Dorking
Surrey
RH4 1BQ

T: 01306 880110
F: 01306 471230

DX: 57300 DORKING

Godalming

The Tanners
75 Meadrow
Godalming
Surrey
GU7 3HS

T: 01483 861848
F: 01483 431965

DX: 58308 GODALMING 1