The convenience of being able to ‘tap and go’ using contactless cards is potentially exposing the elderly in particular, to an increased risk of financial abuse.
Sadly, but perhaps inevitably, the charity Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) is reporting an increase in calls to their helpline about small, regular amounts of money being stolen by friends or family who have access to an elderly person’s bank cards. No PIN is required for contactless purchases of up to £30 – and as the elderly are less aware of this technology than other age groups, they are more vulnerable to the crime. Most victims are women over the age of 80, according to the charity and the majority of perpetrators are family members.
Lesley Carcary, AEA’s Scotland director is reported to have said, “We are trying to do more to educate the elderly about contactless technology, but we find that most elderly victims of financial crimes are fully aware someone is stealing money from them. They tend to keep quiet about it because they are very often highly dependent on the friend or family member who is helping themselves to the funds.”
How truly repugnant is that? To be aware that you are being exploited, but to feel unable to do anything about it. And the worst of it is that if the crime is unreported, it is easy for the authorities to be complacent – to say that fraud figures are low, and that such crimes ‘ought’ to be reported. Of course they should, but is it any wonder that they are not?
There is no easy answer to this problem, though of course, raising awareness of the issue is important, so that customers can request NOT to have contactless technology (all banks except Barclaycard holders can do this).
Financial abuse is wrong, it is a crime and it can be possible to take action if it is discovered. It is something Sarah Young, a solicitor at Ridley & Hall specialising in cases involving financial abuse, feels strongly about and if you do too, you can find out more information here about it and how to deal with it.
If you would like to speak to Sarah about a possible case, please contact her via e-mail or by phone on 01484 558838.