Decision to scrap free TV licence for over-75s could be a 'bonanza' for fraudsters

28 September 2019

Age UK says TV licence fraud could go up by 13% once the licence fee is scrapped next year

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The decision to scrap TV licences for the over-75s could lead to more pensioners being targeted by fraudsters, Age UK has warned.

The charity estimates that successful scams could rocket by 13% when the new rules come into force next June, with fraudsters making off with over £320,000.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, says: “Fraudsters are always searching for new opportunities to part us from our cash and it seems that the BBC’s decision to make millions of older people buy a TV licence from next summer could be a bonanza for them. 

“As though the prospect of losing their free TV licence wasn’t bad enough for our over-75s, this expected upsurge in fraudulent communications adds insult to injury and will be a further kick in the teeth for anyone unfortunate enough to be caught out.”

How does the scam work?

Scammers typically contact people by letter, email or text, posing as TV Licensing – the body responsible for collecting the licence fee.

They then say that there’s been a problem with their TV licence fee payment or that the victim needs to pay up now.

There have been almost 18,000 reports of people receiving fraudulent TV licence emails and hundreds of crime reports in which the victim has lost out financially in the past year, according to Age UK.

Ms Abrahams says: “Fraud in all its guises is a real risk to older people’s finances and to their wellbeing too, and the reality is that fraudsters are merciless and it’s all too easy to be taken in.

“Our advice is to be ultra-cautious about any communications you receive linked to TV licences." 

She adds: "Of course this problem is only arising because the government passed responsibility for free licences to the BBC without the money to pay for them, and this enhanced risk of scams is just the latest in the long list of reasons why the government should stump up the funding to allow TV licences to remain free for all our over-75s.”

Moneywise has approached the BBC for comment. A spokesperson says: “We take these issues very seriously and we are doing everything we can to help protect our customers against fraudsters by ensuring they can distinguish between what is a genuine TV Licensing communication and what is a scam.

"Our advice is that if people are unsure about a communication they’ve received, they should contact us directly and we can help. We never contact customers out of the blue to ask for bank details, personal information, or to tell them that they may be entitled to a refund.

"For our customers who are over 75 and have a free TV licence, we will not cold call them and will provide the information they need to contact and engage with TVL directly. Anyone who is concerned about communications that seem suspicious, you can call on 0300 790 6112 or visit www.tvl.co.uk/scam.”

Why the BBC is scrapping the TV licence

After the Conservative government shifted the cost of the licence fee for over-75s to the BBC, the corporation was left between a rock and a hard place: either scrap the concession for the elderly or cut broadcasting services.

The cost of funding the TV licence for people aged over 75 is £745 million a year.

The BBC says that to renew the scheme would cost around a fifth of its budget - the equivalent to what it spends on BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News Channel, CBBC and CBeebies.

The current licence fee costs £154.50 for a colour licence and £52 for a black and white licence.

The scrapping of the licence means up to 3.7 million pensioners will have to start paying from June 2020.

Comments

Free TV licences

I think over 75's should continue to receive free licences but only if on means tested benefits. There are bound to be a lot of fairly well-off people getting a free licence who wouldn't suffer hardship if they had to pay £13,20 a month.

In reply to by Maureen Sittlington (not verified)

TV LICENCES

FREE TV LICENCES FOR ALL THOSE WHO WERE BORN BEFORE I REPEAT BEFORE THE END OF THE 2ND WORLD WAR.

In reply to by KATHY HANCOCK (not verified)

free tv licences

AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In reply to by susan philp (not verified)

tv llicence

should remain free for all over 75"s

Well done Conservative Party

You've really done it now! They're a number of scams they could pull on this one - I won't suggest any but I can imagine anyone can guess.

As if the elderly don't have much to worry about on one of the worst pensions in the top richest countries in the world!

BBC Licence Fee

What about scrapping the licence fee altogether ? It is long overdue an overhaul. When the BBC was created there was no competition and the fee was appropriate for that time. Fast forward 80 years and we live in an age of multi-channel digital television with more programmes you can shake a stick at.
How about the BBC stands on its own and raises revenue from voluntary subscriptions or even advertising ( which it uses already on international off-shoots) rather than taxing everyone who owns a TV but does not care for their standards of entertainment or blatantly biased political agenda.

T.V. Licence Scam

I receive several of these e mails and as we don’t pay by direct debit I grew suspicious. I sent a reply and it bounced back immediately saying IPS address unknown. Always worth a try if suspicious.

Why not free T.V. licences for the deaf.

Can't understand why only the blind can have free T.V. licences. At least the blind can follow a program, the same as listening to the radio. I am deaf in both ears, and even with hearing aids, can't hear a T.V. program without missing a lot of it. A lot of loud background music, people talking with their back to you e.t.c. Subtitles are not available on all channels, and a lot of films don't have them. Even when they are on, the spelling mistakes on them is terrible, giving wrong names as well, making it impossible to follow the plot. So I am just left watching the picture, with not a clue what is going on, and my partner getting sick of me saying what did they say. I am paying the licence fee, and not enjoying watching it. I have 5 years till I am 75, and will not even get that now, as not on pension credit. Does anyone else who is deaf, think that they should get a free T.V licence?

Television Licence Fee

Yes Simone, You hit the nail right on the head. I agree with everything you have said.
I like you am seriously deaf in both ears and have hearing aids for both ears, and although I lip read a little, that is difficult to do when the presenter, presents one with the back of his or hers head. I feel I must here give praise to a BBC News 24 newsreader Martine Copsall, when that lady reads the news it is a 100% communication, because I can both hear and see and if necessary add the two inputs together in my head. I also have great problem in understanding anyone with facial hair, which is becoming the fashion with many males, because one cannot read the lips.

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