According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, 1 in 5 individuals above the age of 65 are abused financially. This is a shocking number.
Gradnparents get taken advantage of in many ways. A phone call is made, with the caller telling the unsuspecting grandparent that they are the grandchild and in trouble. "Grandpa, I am in trouble and I need your credit card to help." The scammer goes on to tell about all sorts of things to encourage the senior citizen to divulge their credit card information. It is surprising how many people fall for these scams. in another scam, the thief may call numerous times, developing a sort of relationship with the senior before "asking" for help. Lastly, these scammers prey on seniors with failing memories, appealing to them while posing as a friend, relative or similar person, knowing the senior may have difficulty remembering. Since the senior citizen often does not want to admit not remembering the person, they may just give in and say that they do. This is truly taking advantage of this group of individuals.
Seniors themselves may be opening themseleve up to more avenues for scammers. As more senior utilize online dating sites, for example, they may fall prey to romance related scams. Seniors also may not be fully cognizant of online banking programs and fall prey to those posing as bank employees.
What makes things worse is, once scammed, senior citizens are far more likely NOT to report the crime. This is due to embarassment and being ashamed of the fact that they were taken advantage of in the first place. It also may take a while for seniors to even realize that they have been scammed financially. It is estimated that only 10% of such frauds are reported and most reported cases aren’t even investigated. Financial scams are expensive for law enforcement to pursue and there can be little concrete evidence.
It is important to realize that the ability to recognize these types of fraud can fade with aging, even among people without dementia. As the senior population increases they also are becoming serious targets. Cheap Internet phoning, emailing and rapid fund-transfer technology make it relatively simple to contact and then swindle senior targets. They can lose thousands of dollars or more before their families ever notice. Be aware of this rise. Be dilligent in monitoring the financial lives of those you love and, remember, that it doesn't always happen to someone else!