Seniors Targeted by Scammers and Con Artists

By: Jody Smith

Everyone needs to be alert to scams and con artists, but this is especially true for senior citizens. The FBI website said that one of the reasons for this is that seniors are assumed to have substantial savings as well as solid credit, and they probably own their homes. This makes senior citizens a potentially very plush target.

Seniors come from a different era. As they grew up and did business, it was a world that moved to a different rhythm and certain rules of decorum were generally followed. This is not to say that nobody ever got snookered in the good old days. After all, con artists were not all born yesterday. The shady profession has been around since ... well, since people have been around.

As a baby boomer, I have noticed a climate change in dealing with telemarketers and others phoning, emailing, and sending letters to me in recent years. Many are still civil and courteous, and following the old rules of engagement. But more and more are agressive on the phone and some are outright liars. I also grew up in a time where manners and courtesy were paramount. But in the last few years, out of self-defense, I have learned to become more brisk and curt, even sometimes interjecting a spiel with "I have to go now. Goodbye," and hanging up. Something I would never have dreamed of doing a few years ago.

When seniors get caught in a scam, this can be quite embarrassing. The "I'm old enough to know better" reaction is liable to be stronger in the 80 year old than it is in the 20 year old. It's also possible that a senior may not know who to go to after they've discovered they've been scammed. And it's possible, too, that they may keep it to themselves because they don't want to look like they are losing it to dementia.

The National Institute of Justice performed research in 2009 which found that among Americans who were 60 years of age or older, 5 percent had been targeted by a member of their own family and 6.5 percent were victimized by someone they were not related to. This was reported in an article on Msnbc.com. The article said that some seniors are vulnerable because they are not able to manage independently, and may respond to what seems like genuine offers of assistance, but which turn out to be fraud. Some are just not familiar with the newer types of abuse over the telephone or the Internet.

Last year, MetLife Inc. estimated that elder financial abuse has netted a national loss of $2.9 billion.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Fraud Target: Senior Citizens

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

Scams targeting older Americans enriching con artists

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46574273/ns/business-personal_finance/t/scams-targeting-older-americans-enriching-con-artists/#.T2UoVMUgf24

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