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How do I stop my Mum being ripped off?

(20 Posts)
guiltyson Fri 15-Sep-17 16:14:39

My Mum is fiercely independent and wants to continue that way.
She has problems negotiating the modern consumer ways: buying stuff over the phone she doesnt need, on a charities marketing list and basically, seems to get talked into buying stuff she doesnt need or want. She then looses track of what she has brought and signed up to. I turned up to find a stack of dried food deliveries (graze) piling up in the corner - which was surreal.

I dont want to interfere with her life. I do want her to be protected but I cant seem to make her understand that there are people who sell stuff using all sorts of tactics.

How can I help? How can I help her understand there are unscrupulous businesses who want to take advantage?
Ideally, how can I get her to put the phone down immediately if she doesnt recognise the caller?

Thanks for your advice.

Anya Fri 15-Sep-17 16:33:28

I have an app in my mobile while only allows through calls from numbers on my contact list. Everyone else is invited to leave a message.

Does anyone know if you can get a similar device on a landline as that would do the trick? 🤔

guiltyson Fri 15-Sep-17 16:41:32

Thanks Anya.
The landline is a real problem. Not sure what to do because they seem to have her number on some database.

Nonnie Fri 15-Sep-17 17:02:55

Sounds good Anya. Failing that what about caller display? She could then just simply not answer numbers she doesn't know? Of course she may feel it is impolite to ignore people.

Luckygirl Fri 15-Sep-17 17:06:27

This is a very difficult situation as you are treading on eggshells with her self-respect but clearly do not want her to be exploited in any way.

Maybe you could lie!!! - say that you nearly got conned by something and how glad you were that someone tipped you off! Naughty I know, but might work as the message is sort of "second hand" and not singling her out as vulnerable

BlueBelle Fri 15-Sep-17 17:21:39

After my mum died we found quite a few things she had signed up to thinking they were one offs I also found out lots of them have an automatic opt in clause which people don't realise they will keep sending Graze is naughty like that I think once you send for one free item you have opted into monthly without realising it
I think you can be a little bit 'naughty' and cancel anything you see ( behind her back)you certainly don't want to let her think you are controlling but it's important you stop these from keep coming

Luckygirl Fri 15-Sep-17 17:22:06

There appear to be two of these threads.

GrandmaMoira Fri 15-Sep-17 17:22:37

Has she opted out of the open register on the electoral roll? If you do that, your details are not sold to companies to use like this. It cuts the number of times this is likely to happen.

guiltyson Fri 15-Sep-17 17:47:42

apologies all. I posted this on legal and money, not thinking about the confusion.

MOira, that is something I can take care of. Thanks.
Luckygirl: I thought about trying to make her think she was outsmarting the trickster but it all seems to be very short term. IN the end, I think its very hard to break habits and core beliefs about how society works.

Auntieflo Fri 15-Sep-17 19:39:24

After being bombarded with unwanted nuisance calls from all and sundry, we bought some new BT phones. Calls from our contact list get through fine, but others have to announce themselves. You can choose to accept a call if you recognise the caller's name, or ignore it and let it go to answer phone. Very often the unknown caller will not leave a message. Since having these phones, our nuisance calls have ceased.

trisher Fri 15-Sep-17 20:20:26

guiltyson would your mum agree to have 2 bank accounts? One which holds most of her money. pays her bills and which you look after the card for and one into which a small amount of money is paid each month and she has the card. She would then be free to spend that as she wanted but would have the valid excuse for the people who pester her for contributions that there won't be enough in her account. I also wonder if she is a bit lonely and talking to someone on the phone helps her, even when all they want is to sell her something. Perhaps she could do with some company, I think Age UK have helpers who will visit.

guiltyson Fri 15-Sep-17 21:53:37

thanks trisher. A great observation about the loneliness. I am conscious she might be enjoying the interaction which makes it harder to deal with.
The two accounts I will try but I am sure it will create a stir since it will seem like I am interfering. It might be the last resort if I cant convince her to change her behaviour.
Its really tricky but I am sure there is a way.
Will check Age UK, but I know I need to be visiting and calling in more often.

Charleygirl Fri 15-Sep-17 22:40:24

Your mother is also too polite. I live on my own and the very odd times I get these calls I have a story for them- if they want to fix my computer remotely- I do not have one, should I and would a microwave do? That gets rid of them.

I own my house but if somebody rings about double glazing or more likely knocks at the door, I say the house is rented.

The latest was a burglar alarm and luckily I knew that after it is fitted around £23 a month is debited for maintenance. I just say, a lovely idea but my pension does not stretch to that amount each month- I would not be able to heat the place or whatever. She is too nice.

Hilltopgran Sat 16-Sep-17 00:14:26

It is a very difficult problem which will not get better. My Mum was very vulnerable but fiercely independent, and believed every sales call and advert through the post, we became really concerned at the number of strange items in the house, we found she was writting numerous cheques each day not realising it. We had to take action and had her post redirected and removed cheque book and card, but left her with cash so she could go to shops we were doing her food shopping and she always had ready meals available to her.

We tried not to hurt her feelings and let her remain independent, which was her wish, but she was scammed out of her lifes savings before we realised she was no longer able to manage her finances any more.

Straight talking about thd risk to her financially with her is probably the best way forward, and agreeing limiting how much money she has access to as a protective measure.

Imperfect27 Sat 16-Sep-17 08:13:10

What a worry for you. Your mother is fortunate to have you looking out for her.

My DH's work involves advising elderly people on avoiding phone scams / purchases and the like, he visits and gives leaflets. His advice:

If you can persuade your mother to do so, she can install a call blocker through her phone provider. She would still need to screen calls.

You can contact the charities commission to complain about your mother being on a list and ask her to be removed from it, or ring charities directly that have tried to contact her and 'forcefully' ask them not to do so anymore.

See also

These websites have useful advice about scams.

Further advice about avoiding scam telephone calls can be found by contacting Citizen's Advice consumer helpline on

0845 04 05 06 (08454 04 05 06 for welsh speaking)

Otherwise, re consumer sales / purchases, if you feel she is simply spending undiscerningly and is then distressed/ bewildered by what arrives at the front door, I don't think it is unreasonable of you to suggest she just checks with you if in doubt before she makes the purchase.

Best wishes.

Liz46 Sat 16-Sep-17 09:09:20

We have a sign on the front door 'no cold callers'. It even deters the religious people! They are very cheap to purchase online.

Coolgran65 Sat 16-Sep-17 09:11:23

Mother was widowed and I visited her 3 times per week, it was a 30 mile round trip. Couldn't do it more as I worked full time. I did chores, cajoled her into letting me wash her hair etc.

My brother whom I love dearly called with her about once a fortnight, read the paper for 15 minutes, and left.
(The result of years of mother's sharp sarcastic tongue - I also was on the receiving end but was more tolerant).

One day I arrived and a new suite sat in all it's 'glory'. It was awful, as light as a feather and covered in shiny pink floral polyester. The man had been going door to door with furniture in the back of a van. Indeed mother was so pleased because he even took away her well used but good condition G Plan suite to dispose of it for her 'without charge'. !! I could have wept for her because her eye had been well and truly wiped.

The new suite lasted about 12 months, the joints failed and the seams parted. I reckoned the frame was balsa wood, dh thought perhaps pallets.
We ended up buying a lovely new quality suite. When mother died her old bachelor neighbour was delighted to make use of the lovely as-new suite.

I still feel angry when I think of it, that guy looked my elderly mother straight in the eye and took advantage. He didn't twist her arm, he scammed her, mother felt she had done a good thing and I never told her otherwise.

Did make the point that it's best not to buy on the doorstep because with no name of seller or contact with seller, no receipt, what happens if the suite is faulty. Which it was. But the deed was done and there was no point in making mum feel inadequate. Asked her not to do this again as no guarantee for the item, and I'd take her to choose anything she ever wanted which is what usually happened. On this particular day she was vulnerable and the con guy was onto a good thing.

Liz46 Sat 16-Sep-17 09:18:09

It may be looking into Attendance Allowance. If your mother is entitled to it (it doesn't matter if she has savings), it would pay for some help in the house.
My 94 year old aunt is fiercely independent but has a distant relative in to help. This lady does anything that is necessary from gardening to hospital appointments and it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
If you do apply for AA, you'll need help from Age UK or Citizens Advice.

gillybob Sat 16-Sep-17 09:28:08

I think you need to educate her to say a firm NO guiltyson which is what I did with my late grandma . It became a bit of a game in the end where she would quite enjoy winding the callers up for a bit and then announce that she never subscribed to, or bought anything without my approval.

guiltyson Sat 16-Sep-17 11:10:08

great advice from all.
Charleygirl has it though: she is just too polite. From an era when picking up the phone was like a real conversation.