Cuts to trading standards services are leaving millions of older people at risk of fraud, according to Age UK.
The charity warns that budget reductions of up to 60% over the last seven years have undermined the ability of local authorities to tackle scams among older people.
It is calling on the Government to ensure that all local authorities have the resources needed to meet their safeguarding duties under the Care Act.
In a new report, Applying the Brakes, Age UK says trading standards services have a key role to play in tackling fraud yet severe budget cuts are damaging their ability to act.
It says a 56% reduction in the number of trading standards officers from 2009 to 2016 has left some services with just one qualified officer, forcing some to stop tackling doorstep crimes or providing consumer advice altogether.
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: 'However tough our laws are to prevent and combat fraud, they are pretty toothless if the staff just aren’t there to enforce them.
'Local trading standards officers have been cut back to the bone in many areas as councils struggle with big Government funding cuts, and the end result is that fraudsters have far more freedom to operate.'