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.