Older adults and “scams”: evidence from the Mass Observation Archive
The Journal of Adult Protection
Article publication date: 6 January 2021
Issue publication date: 23 February 2021
The issue of financial abuse is highlighted in the Care Act (2014). One category of financial abuse is consumer fraud or “scams.” Evidence suggests that scams are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, yet how scams impact older adults remains under-researched. The purpose of this paper is to report data from 80 older adults’ written responses to a Mass Observation Archive Directive, commissioned in autumn 2015, which focused on scams.
A qualitative approach was used with data captured via written responses to a set of questions. There was no limit on the length of written accounts, and respondents remained anonymous. Data were analysed thematically, resulting in four key themes.
The data indicated scams impact individuals in terms of health and well-being, irrespective of whether they have experienced financial loss, and trigger implementation of strategies intended to avoid being defrauded. There was also evidence of scam-related stigma with individuals who are defrauded being subject to derision and censure.
Individuals who have been victimised by fraudsters may need access to practical and emotional support. This requires the design of appropriate interventions and the stigma associated with being scammed to be addressed.
This paper adopts an original approach to collecting rich, candid data about an under-researched topic. The authors highlight that anti-scam interventions should equip individuals to identify and avoid scams without inciting fear or anxiety; proposing this may be facilitated by drawing on health and safety risk assessment protocol when designing anti-scam interventions.
Funding: University of Chester.quality-related research funding.Permission to quote from the Mass Observation Archive granted by the Trustees of the Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex.
Bailey, J., Taylor, L., Kingston, P. and Watts, G. (2021), "Older adults and “scams”: evidence from the Mass Observation Archive", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 57-69. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-07-2020-0030
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