BOSTON (CBS) – According to the 2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015.
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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 our elders fall victim.
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 30s, 40s, and 50s 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.READ MORE: Owners Of The Station Nightclub Tell Their Side Of Story On '48 Hours'
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, because they are concerned that their kids may think they 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. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
Senior citizens 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.MORE NEWS: 'DCR Wants To Turn This Into A Lawn': Group Fights Plan To Relocate Herter Community Garden
How to file a complaint with FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or Call 1-877-FTC-HELP.