Police say the number of criminals targeting vulnerable people in their homes is on the rise with many not realising they have been the victim of a crime.
A force spokesman said: “In Cherwell and West Oxfordshire there has been a number of residents subjected to various forms of online scams. With some simple advice and support from those around them we can attempt to tackle this heartless crime.
“Invasions of people’s personal lives can start through the post, the internet and the telephone and can result in many victims paying out thousands of pounds of their hard earned money.
“The growing number of scams and the forms they take is putting many older and vulnerable people at risk of losing their assets and independence.
“This could be happening to your parents, siblings, neighbours and friends so it is essential that support is offered to these potentially vulnerable people against the fraudsters that are keen to steal their valuables, money, identity or their property.”
A popular scam is courier fraud where scammers phone and say they are from the victim’s bank or the police. The fraudsters state there has been suspicious activity on the victim’s account and tell them to call their bank on the number on their bank card.
But scammers hold the phone line open and are then able to get personal information out of the victim. A courier is then sent to collect their bank card to replace it with a new ‘safer’ card. With this information the fraudsters have the victim’s bank card and PIN, name and address and full bank details to use without them realising.
With lottery and prize draw scams the victim is told they have won a large amount of money and just have to pay a release fee to claim it. Clairvoyant, PPI, catalogue, brochure and phishing scams are also common methods to scam the vulnerable.
The police spokesman added: “The impact of these crimes on the elderly and vulnerable can cause emotional distress, inability to recover financially and loss of independence.
“There are simple checklists that can be printed and given to those at risk of courier fraud scams or door to door scams. It offers prompts to remind potential victims of what to look out for and how to deal with it if they feel they have become a victim.
“There is lots of information on the Force website about Identity theft and fraud Thames Valley Police have also produced The Little Book of Big Scams offering guidance about different scams and how best to deal with them.”