Managing debt and avoiding fraud

Managing debt and avoiding fraud

Carers can find themselves under great financial pressures, and can fall into debt. There is help available. Carers are also at risk of fraud or scams – tips below to help.

Help with debt

It’s all too easy for carers to face financial pressures as they are often forced to reduce their working hours, or give up work and face extra costs.

Caring households can find themselves spending more on food, transport and bills, as well as paying for disability-related items like home adaptations, equipment or care services. The result can be mounting debt.

If you find yourself in financial difficulties, please ask for help. There is lots of free, confidential support and advice available. It’s also really important that you check that you are getting all you’re entitled to in terms of benefits, and other financial help.

Get in touch with us for information and advice. Call us on 0303 040 1234 or email CarerSupport@actionforcarers.org.uk. You can also text us (SMS) on 07714 075993.

Or try any of the organisations listed below. The first step is asking for help.

For free and confidential debt and money advice:

These organisations can all help. Take a look at their websites to find the information you need.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Debt Advice Foundation

Debt Support Trust

Money Advice Service

National Debtline

Payplan

Step Change

Civil Legal Advice (if your home is at risk)

Community Money Advice

Loan sharks

‘Loan shark’ is a term for people who lend money illegally.

They often target low income and desperate families. They might seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea – even if you feel you have no other options.

Please get in touch with Action for Carers, or one of the organisations above. They can give you proper advice and guidance on your financial difficulties.

The government’s Money Advice Service has lots of helpful advice about avoiding loan sharks here: Money Advice Service: how to spot a loan shark

Fraud and ‘scams’

Every year thousands of us fall victim to scams sent by post, email, text, the phone and internet.

Carers and the elderly can be particularly vulnerable, victims of scams such as bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes, ‘guaranteed’ investments, fake psychics and ‘miracle’ health cures. And scams are getting increasingly sophisticated, for example, calls asking to log into your computer to ‘fix’ something, or calls supposedly from your bank.

Research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) shows that older victims are likely to lose nearly twice as much per scam as others. Victims are often socially isolated, over-trusting or afflicted by illnesses such as dementia and can be repeatedly targeted by the scammers. With many carers alone at home, they can become the perfect target for unscrupulous scammers. One carer reported being bombarded by unwanted phone calls for over a year, demanding payments for products she had not ordered.

How you can protect yourself

Surrey Trading Standards can help. They can supply leaflets and sticker packs to protect carers from unwanted visitors and advise on phone blocking services to stop nuisance calls. For more information call 03454 04 05 06.

They also have very useful information on their wesbite Surrey Trading Standards to help you look out for the various types of scams.

How to avoid becoming a victim of a scam

  • Stop, think, and be sceptical. Did the communication (the call, letter or email) come out of the blue?
  • NEVER give personal or financial information or PIN numbers to anyone, however plausible they might sound. This applies even if they claim to represent a business or organisation you have heard of or where the caller has your name.
  • Genuine businesses or organisations will never telephone you and ask you for personal or financial information.
  • Think about how much money you could lose responding to a potential scam; it’s a risk not worth taking.
  • If you receive a call, letter or email that you suspect is bogus, speak to family or friends or seek advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service. To report a fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
  • Ask your telecoms provider to help with call screening, or blocking. You can also go on the Telephone Preference Service to register not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls, although it may not stop overseas calls. Call 0345 070 0707.
In all cases, if it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.