What is elder fraud? It’s when unscrupulous people take advantage of senior citizens. It affects nearly 40% of those of us over the age of 65, and the loss is over $36 billion annually.
How does it occur? Some of it is going on right under your nose. It includes things that don’t necessarily have to be confusing for seniors, such as misleading financial advice, hidden fees or subscriptions, or even fake dietary products. Here are a few things you need to know.
The 3 Main Types of Elder Fraud
- The largest type of fraud is financial exploitation. It’s the cause of nearly $17 billion in annual losses to seniors. Much of this comes as junk mail or unsolicited telemarketing. Scammers defraud seniors by getting consent to take their money.
- Seniors lose another $13 billion because of criminal fraud. At the top of the list is identity theft.
- Tragically, caregiver abuse contributes another $7 billion in annual losses to seniors. This is not physical abuse. It’s when a trusted person uses their relationship with a senior to inappropriately use finances or even outright steal money.
Who’s Most at Risk?
You might think that seniors with memory issues are the biggest victims of elder fraud. Statistics may surprise you.
- Studies have shown that thrifty seniors are 5 times more likely to be at risk because they’re attracted by the bargains that get pitched to them by scammers.
- Ironically, extremely friendly and sociable seniors are 4 times more likely to be defrauded. Experts believe this is because they’re more approachable and tend to give strangers the benefit of a doubt.
- Even financially sophisticated seniors are at risk. Experts have discovered these seniors tend to lose more due to fraud because they’re comfortable with larger amounts of money.
- Seniors who receive one or more telemarketing phone calls a day are 3 times more likely to experience a financial loss due to fraud than someone who only gets an occasional telemarketing phone call.
The easiest way to keep elder fraud at bay is to check on a senior’s financial situation regularly. There are enough scams to worry about already, but it’ll be in your best interests to start paying attention to those that are particularly aimed at seniors.
You can cut down on telemarketing and potential scams by helping seniors sign up for the National Do Not Call registry. It’s a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission. You can register online or call 888-382-1222.