Wednesday 23 October 2019

'Learn the warning signs' - Mary O'Rourke warns older people of online scam dangers as she reveals she's been targeted by fraudsters

Former Government Minister Mary O’Rourke & granddaughter Jennifer (16) team up to launch Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photograph
Former Government Minister Mary O’Rourke & granddaughter Jennifer (16) team up to launch Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photograph
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

FORMER government minister Mary O’Rourke has revealed she has been targeted by fraudsters.

She was speaking out after a new survey showed a third of people say they have lost money to a fraudster, with older people the most vulnerable.

The average sum of money stolen from older people is €1,320.

This is far more than other age groups, according to a new FraudSmart survey from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland.

The average sum of money scammed from people is €1,005,

But this figure rises to €1,320 among people over the age of 55.

READ MORE: Clinic to highlight dangers of online financial scams

When it comes to those between the ages of 18 and 24 the average amount they are defrauded out of is €228.

Mary O’Rourke helping to launch Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography
Mary O’Rourke helping to launch Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography

One in five older people are targeted at least weekly by attempts to defraud them.

Ms O’Rourke (82), who held a number of ministerial portfolios in Fianna Fáil-led governments, revealed she has been targeted by fraudsters but did not fall victim to the scams.

“I myself have been targeted by scams over the years, from calls to my landline looking to fix a problem with my computer to emails pretending to offer tax refunds.

“My advice, especially for older people, is to learn the warning signs so that you can act at the time.”

READ MORE: 'This is absolutely not us' - family of teenage girl who died after debs warn of 'fake fundraising page'

The survey results have been released to coincide with Fraud Awareness Week, which ends on Sunday.

During this week people are encouraged to “check, chat and challenge” a loved one on the issue of financial fraud scams and identity theft, especially our youngest, oldest and most vulnerable family and friends.

Over 55s are most likely to report fraud attempts to the authorities.

Large numbers contact their bank and/or the Gardai.

READ MORE: 'I felt like a complete spanner over €4,500' - young woman taken in by fake Revenue text

Almost half of older people make a point of telling family, friends and colleagues about their experience.

Mary O’Rourke launching Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography
Mary O’Rourke launching Fraud Awareness Week. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography

The survey found they are the only age group that say they do not feel embarrassed for being targeted by scammers in the first place.

Email is the mostly likely way older people are targeted, but phone calls to landlines account for nearly one in three fraud attempts among the group.

More than one in 10 reported getting rid of their landline/changing their phone number to help combat the issue.

Older people are no more susceptible than any other age group to fraud committed by a “person calling to the door”.

READ MORE: Half of youngsters looking for cash have been targeted by fraudsters

However, over 55s were slowest of all age groups to realise when money or personal details had been stolen.

Even though they are slower to respond, older people reported taking more proactive measures to protect themselves from fraud online and in person.

Most now keep now keep a closer eye on their bank account, and they are more inclined to do this than younger adults.

READ MORE: Adrian Weckler: 'Don't be naive - lending your account to fraudsters will be taken very seriously'

More than a third regularly change passwords on email and online accounts they use regularly compared to younger people.

In addition, older people said they avoid using public wi-fi.

Niamh Davenport of the Banking and Payments Federation FraudSmart programme said there was still a reluctance among some older people to ask a family or friend for a second opinion if something looks suspicious.

“We all know someone who has been scammed, young or old, but it’s only by checking with each other that it becomes easier to spot the trends and tell-tale signs of fraudsters at work. It’s one thing to know the signs yourself, but it’s much more powerful to help those you love understand them too.”

READ MORE: How to ensure you are not conned by the fraudsters

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