The Facts About Seniors And Fraud
Scamming is a billion dollar international business. It targets anyone with a telephone or mailing address. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.
There are no solid statistics regarding the number of seniors who are victims of fraud, because many never report it. It’s estimated, however, that one in 20 persons over 65 have been victimized, while only one in 44 ever report it.
Scams are often perpetrated by a phone call or letter. Both appear legitimate. Impressive letterheads and references to titles and offices imply authority. However, there are telltale signs that it’s not for real. Sentence structure is often awkward, with numerous grammatical and spelling errors.
According to the FBI, older citizens are easy to scam because they are too polite and trusting. Con artists easily exploit these traits, drawing people into well-rehearsed pitches, and then steal their nest eggs. Because of their reluctance to hang up or authenticate the letter, the money is gone.
The reasons senior citizens rarely report fraud:
Don’t know where or how to report it
Concerned that relatives will think them mentally incompetent
Too embarrassed to admit it
What can be done? Early detection results in stopping fraud in its tracks. There are two levels of detection and prevention in the US:
Federal programs inform and educate.
Community programs train employees to spot suspicious activities.
Banks train employees to be on the alert for irregularities when doing business with customers. A suspicious signature, a withdrawal for an unusually high amount, or a transaction that doesn’t fit the profile for this customer may elicit a conversation for clarification. It may save someone from financial disaster.
Communication and money transfer companies, such as Western Union, now train employees to recognize potential fraud. Partnering with law enforcement and individual detection experts can greatly increase awareness of identity theft and other forms of fraud.
Family members need to be aware that their loved ones are aggressively targeted. Thousands of products and services being sold seem legitimate. Many have specific appeal to seniors. Health aids, financial insights, cognitive and memory games and anti-aging products are especially popular, and it’s difficult to spot the scams.
When elderly citizens do report, they usually make poor witnesses because
Memory may be impaired.
It may be difficult to admit they have been swindled.
Weeks or months may have passed before reporting.
The FBI and government websites have information on all aspects of fraud, scams and identity theft.
Careful reading will help you to become familiar with all the kinds of fraud and how to spot them. Shop wisely, safeguard your nest egg, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Billions of dollars are stolen every year from people of all ages. Senior Citizens are a prime target.
Don’t take chances with your nest egg. And if you think you’ve been scammed, call the police.