Financial Scams That Target Seniors
Older adults might feel like they are frequent targets of financial scams, and they’d be right. According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, 1 in 18 seniors falls victim to these scams each year. Some believe the numbers might be significantly higher, as many people are too embarrassed to admit what happened to them.
Many criminals think seniors are more vulnerable than other age groups, so they seek out neighborhoods with greater numbers of older adults. Door-to-door scams are common and usually increase during the warmer months of the year.
Why Financial Scammers Target Older Adults
According to the FBI, scammers target older adults for a variety of reasons. A few of the most common include:
- Financially stable: Older adults are considered to be in a stronger financial position than younger people, such as a home without a mortgage, a car, good credit, and investments.
- Home during daytime: Retired seniors are more likely to be home during the daytime, when scammers typically come calling.
- Trusting by nature: Those who came of age before the internet are believed to be a trusting generation more likely to fall for scammers’ lies.
- Perceived health challenges: Criminals might also think older adults are more likely to have medical issues that prevent them from stopping a crime or remembering the details afterward.
- Embarrassment: Scammers count on older adults being too embarrassed to report being the victim of a crime like this. And it’s true that many seniors think telling their adult children what happened will affect their ability to live on their own.
One way to protect yourself or an aging loved one is to learn more about the most common types of summer scams against seniors.
Summer Door-to-Door Scams
- Fraudulent home contractors
One type of fraud older adults need to be mindful of is a fake contractor saying he’s “working in the neighborhood.” They’ll often offer a senior what sounds like too-good-to-be-true pricing, justifying it by saying they already have a job in progress nearby. Once the victim pays the deposit, the fraudulent contractor disappears and the work is never completed.
- Fake fundraisers
Another ploy criminals frequently use is playing on a senior’s sympathies. One way they do that is through promoting fake fundraisers. They might even use unsuspecting children or teenagers in their scam, such as paying them to go door-to-door selling items like magazines or candy. The kids will ask the senior to pay up front, but the product never arrives.
- Finding excuses to get inside
Finally, be on guard for people looking for reasons to gain entry to your or a senior’s home. They may pose as a utility worker claiming there is a gas leak in the neighborhood and they need to check your connection. Or they might claim to be conducting a free energy audit to help local seniors save money. Whatever their excuse, their goal is to gain access to the home. They might steal from you at the time of entry or come back later to rob the house.
Stay Updated on the Latest Scams
One final suggestion is to keep your eyes and ears open for new types of scams. Pay attention to your local news. It’s often a good source of information on what types of fraud are occurring in your community. If you are on Facebook, follow your local police or sheriff’s department. Those organizations often post this type of information on their Facebook page.
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