A recent post at SeniorsAloud addressed the issue of retirees being easy targets for financial scams. Scam victims are not limited to retirees, of course; but older adults are some of the most highly targeted individuals for fiscal thieves. The blog post ended with the question â€“ why?
My opinion? Seniors are targeted by scam artists for a few reasons:
1. decline in faculties â€“ as abilities decline, people more susceptible to confusion and persuasion
2. intimidation â€“ I dislike the phrase â€œlittle old lady,â€ but in this case it illustrates the vulnerability of an older woman (or man) when confronted by aggressive salesmen or scam artists
3. money â€“ many seniors have cash in the bank
4. trust â€“ seniors are often more trusting than other adults, particularly when it comes to family, who â€“ unfortunately â€“ are the majority of persons committing financial fraud against elders
Seniors will be making up a greater portion of the global population. Financial fraud is the fastest growing form of elder abuse, and will continue to be. A significant number of cases go unreported, particularly when family members commit the crime. Unless far greater consumer education, prevention, and prosecution occurs, more and more seniors will become victims of fraud.
Here are a few warning signs Iâ€™ve learned over the years through trainings on elder abuse:
1. the opportunity is only available right now
2. a person on the phone asks for your bank account information and you didnâ€™t initiate the call
3. the person involved seems exceptionally trustworthy, and reassures the senior that this is in his/her best interest
4. the deal seems too good to be true
Caregivers and family members should watch for these warning signs:
1. unusual bank withdrawals that the senior canâ€™t explain
2. missing checks
3. numerous unpaid bills
4. missing property
5. newly formed, close relationships with strangers
If you think you or your loved one has become the victim of financial exploitation, report the issue to your local police department immediately. Do not feel ashamed; it can (and does) happen to anyone.