Fraud Protection: Seniors Are More Vulnerable

BOSTON (CBS) – According to The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, nearly $16 billion was stolen from over 15 million consumers last year. Fraud is on the increase with 200 million more victims reported last year.

In the spring we did a series on consumer fraud to warn folks of the dangers of scam artists, but I worry about our seniors.

Those over age 65 make up only an eighth of the U.S. population but according to AARP, are a third of all scam victims. Memory loss, loneliness and a more trusting nature are the reasons elders fall victim.

According to the FBI seniors are easy targets for the following reasons:

They are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.

Folks who grew up in the 1940s, and 1950s are generally politer and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.

Seniors are less likely to report 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. And they are concerned that their kids may think they no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.

And when they do 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. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.

Seniors are more susceptible to promises of products that increase cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and healthy life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim. So our elders take the bait and buy the product.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud please take the time to file a complaint with FTC:  https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or Call 1-877-FTC-HELP

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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