Fraud Target: Senior Citizens
SENIOR CITIZEN FRAUD
Financial fraud can be difficult to recognize. This type of fraud can include identity theft, fake check and wire transfer scams, investment and credit card fraud, and bogus online charitable solicitations. Unfortunately, only one in five of these crimes is reported.
Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:
- Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
- People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
- Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
- When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
- Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.
Remember these helpful tips:
- It’s shrewd, not rude to hang up on a suspicious telemarketer.
- Don’t give personal information to people you don’t know unless you initiated the contact.
- Don’t let yourself get pressured into a verbal agreement or signing a contract.
- Be skeptical of online charitable solicitations and other online offers. If interested, ask to receive the information in the mail and check to be sure the company is legitimate.
- Never agree to pay for products or services in advance.
- Get estimates and ask for references on home repair offers and other products or services.
If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
For more information on cons and scams targeted at senior citizens, visit the FBI web site - Common Fraud Schemes.