Senior citizens are the fastest-growing segment of the population, and as a result of this, we are now more at risk for being victims of fraud. As a matter of fact, financial scams targeting seniors are now so rampant that they are considered the “crime of the 21st century.” The combination of an aging population and the sophistication of the scam artists who swindle them result in both financial and emotional loss for the elderly.
The FBI reports the following as reasons why senior citizens are targeted:
- We grew up in an era in which manners were a key component of our upbringing. We were raised to be polite to everyone; therefore it’s often difficult for many of us to just say “no.” It’s even more difficult for us to just hang up the telephone. The scam artists count on this and know it will be easier to take advantage of us.
- We’re thought to have a significant amount of money set aside for retirement in savings accounts, investments, or money markets. We also tend to own our homes and have good credit.
- Con artists will often offer senior citizens the types of products which will supposedly increase mental abilities and sexual prowess, improve our health, prevent disease, etc. This can be a very attractive offer to seniors, and may be something that we feel we can’t pass up.
- In addition, swindlers know that scams will often go unreported because when seniors are victims of scams, we don’t know who to report the incident to. We also may feel embarrassed or ashamed that we’ve been scammed, or we may not even be aware that we’ve been a victim in the first place. There’s also the possibility that we might think that after being scammed in this way, our relatives may think we’re incapable of taking care of our finances, and thus we may lose our independence.
- Because of impaired memory due to aging, we may be sketchy on the detail which makes it harder to investigate the scammer. Then there’s the fact that we may not even find out about the scam until weeks or months later, thus making it even more difficult to remember necessary details.
But there are additional reasons why scammers see geezers as potential victims.
- We get worn down. Scammers may make multiple attempts to call and convince us to buy their scheme. After a while, we just get worn down and want to be left alone so we agree to what they’re selling. Or, we tell ourselves that someone that persistent must be legitimate.
- We’re more available. If we don’t work, we tend to be home more often to answer the phone and the door.
- We may feel isolated or alone. Seniors who live alone or away from their families may have no one to discuss the scammer’s offer with or to help them make a decision. If a senior feels isolated or alone, the scammer becomes someone to talk to and eventually trust.
- We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. In our lifetime we may have known people who have turned their lives around. So we tend to be hopeful and trustworthy and want to believe that people are good and can be trusted. Scammers, who tend to be sociopaths, tend to take example of this.
What this means is that we’ve got to be more vigilant. Just like children, we should be wary of strangers, especially those that try to rush geezers into quick decisions.
Think, “I’ve lived this long. Why shouldn’t I take some more time and seek advice to make an important decision?”