“One in five Americans age 65 and older has been impacted by fraud, according to a survey by the financial education organization Investor Protection Trust. Holiday time, in particular, is high season for these illegal actions.”
It is estimated that seniors who’ve been scammed have lost an average of $430. The national overall total is more than $9.5 billion. Law enforcement and eldercare agencies say financial scams targeting the elderly have become so common, they’re now “the crime of the 21st century.”
The Dayton Daily News reports in its recent article, “Phone scams of elderly ramp up for holidays,” that the ways elder consumers can fall victim to financial exploitation may come in many forms.
Some research indicates that seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. As a result, it’s a very common practice to target the elderly in telemarketing fraud.
New widows or widowers who have recently assumed the role of managing their finances, may be more susceptible to being targeted by a scamming telemarketer.
Maggie Flowers from the National Council on Aging says, “Scam artists know that many older adults have fixed incomes, which may make them more susceptible to fraud, because there may be an openness to learn about ways to make money and pay their bills.”
Financially secure elders are also at risk for fraud, because criminals may presume that years of saving could mean a healthy checking account. Older adults who are socially isolated or who are unaware of a decline in cognition may also be at increased risk for financial exploitation. Older adults who get multiple daily telemarketing calls are likely to experience three times as much financial loss, as a person who receives an occasional telemarketing call.
The FBI says elder victims of scams often don’t report telemarketing fraud because these victims feel shame for being scammed. An elder may also not care to talk about a fraudulent act because they think their family may act aggressively and make the elder feel that their independence may be threatened.
To help minimize the risk for fraud, remember the adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t share information that could be used to access to financial information over the phone, and speak with an elder law attorney to learn about the most effective practices for protection from potential scams.
Reference: Dayton Daily News (November 27, 2017) “Phone scams of elderly ramp up for holidays”