The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the increasing number of fraudulent activities aimed at senior citizens. According to the Federal Trade Commission, which tracks fraud complaints, 26% of all claims tracked during 2012 involved individuals who were 60 years old and older. This number is up sharply from 2008, when only 10% of claims tracked involved the same age group.
Why have these numbers risen so dramatically? There are several probable answers.
- The number of senior citizens is increasing significantly and will continue to do so as the baby boomers move into their elder years. This provides a very large and potentially profitable pool of individuals for targeting.
- Unfortunately, seniors are often less able to identify fraudulent offerings even when they are not afflicted with dementia. The world of computers and emails can be somewhat overwhelming and scams often easily pass the senior’s filter, which often results in significant losses.
- The elderly often become more trusting as they decline and are forced to rely on others for things they once could do themselves. They become less able to identify who should be trusted and who should be screened. Often, anyone who listens to them and promises money or other assistance is considered trustworthy.
- Seniors who are living on a fixed income would love to believe that they have just won a sweepstakes prize or a new car. All they have to do to claim them is send a small amount of money. They can often be swindled over and over again with these types of scams.
Investor Protection Trust says that one in every five elder Americans has been abused financially. That number will probably continue to rise as scam artists focus more and more on this extremely vulnerable segment of the population.