BOSTON (CBS) – 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. There are three common explanations for this disproportionate vulnerability: memory loss, loneliness and a supposedly more trusting nature.
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American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013 according to the Federal Trade Commission’s annual report on consumer complaints.
According to the FBI, 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.READ MORE: Massachusetts Reports 1,115 New COVID Cases, 23 Additional Deaths
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 thus susceptible to promises of products that increase 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 healthy life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.MORE NEWS: House Votes To Posthumously Award Congressional Gold Medal To Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 12 Other Service Members
How to file a complaint with FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or Call 1-877-FTC-HELP