Data from the Federal Trade Commission illustrates a disturbing pattern of fraud targeting elderly Americans. As stated in a Wall Street Journal article titled, “For the Elderly, an Epidemic of Fraud” seniors make up almost 30% of all fraud complaints. Results of a 2010 Investor Protection Trust survey paint a similar picture, 1 in 5 Americans age 65 or older has been victim of fraud. Unfortunately, this problem has only been growing as confirmed by the Geriatric Care Institute at Baylor University.
There are several reasons for this. Some seniors have trouble recognizing fraud. Also, schemes on the internet and phone specifically target the elderly. Another contribution to the growing fraud epidemic is a reluctance to ask for help or report fraud as seniors do not want to lose independence.
Given all these statistics, it is important to look out for your loved one, even they are in good mental health. Simply warning your loved one of the potential for fraud can help them think critically before writing a check for a phone charity. Another step is to keep an eye on the mail. Repeated mailings from a charity or providing so-called free tickets could also be a sign that your loved one is being scammed. Finally, if possible, try to keep an eye on your loved one’s bank account for unusual transactions.