Our senior population is particularly vulnerable to con artists who want to take advantage of them. Too often we hear of stories where an elderly person is scammed out of a large amount of money. Published statistics show that five million elderly persons are financially victimized per year. This age group totals 15% of the overall population but represents 1/3 of all victims of fraud.1
A few reasons why a senior citizen may be more likely to become the victim of fraud:
Reasons Senior Citizens May Be Victims of Fraud
- They were raised to be polite and trusting
- More likely to have substantial assets
- Less likely to report fraud, as they don't wish to be viewed as impaired or needing assistance
- Availability--they are at home during the day and can take unsolicited telephone calls and "drop by" visits
A criminal will prey upon these traits to achieve their own end goal of separating the senior from their money.
If you have seniors in your life, you can help make them more aware of fraudulent practices so that they are better equipped to deal with these situations. Topics you should discuss include:
Help Seniors To Be Aware of Fraudulent Practices
- When unsolicited telephone callers ask for personal information, you should never respond. It's not impolite to say no thank you and hang up.
- If a product or offer sounds "too good to be true,” it probably is. No product is available to stop the aging process.
- Paying shipping and handling for a "free prize" isn't legitimate. Most sweepstakes only benefit the organizer and the odds are not in your favor to "win.”
- Never give out credit card or Social Security numbers when you didn't initiate the call.
- There are many "sound alike" charities that only contribute a tiny fraction of receipts to actual charitable pursuits. Check out charities before giving.
- Don't respond to high pressure tactics that the offer is only good for the day of the call. This is an attempt to limit your ability to talk with others, so do not fall into this trap.
When we have seniors in our lives, it is up to us to help them become aware of the sophisticated techniques used by today's perpetrators of fraud. Through discussion and awareness, they can avoid becoming a victim.1NYC District Attorney's Office: http://manhattanda.org/sites/default/files/Protecting_Elderly.pdf