The few statistics available show seniors are disproportionally affected by financial scams. About 20% of Americans older than 65 — about 7.3 million people — were estimated to have been financially taken advantage of last year, according to survey data.
Investment schemers, fraudulent telemarketers, false charities or lotteries, and people posing as relatives through email or phone are just a few of the ways elders can be scammed.
Though seniors are not inherently more susceptible to these types of crimes — the Federal Trade Commission reported that the most consumer fraud complaints last year came from seniors and baby boomers. This is because certain assumptions are made by scammers about their older victims, according to Virginia TRIAD, a crime prevention partnership between seniors and law enforcement. These assumptions can include that seniors have money from life savings or other assets, that they are at home and willing to talk, or that they are hard of hearing and less able to distinguish voices.
The following are warning signs to look out for of elder fraud schemes, from Virginia TRIAD:
- "Free" gifts that require you to pay shipping and handling fees, redemption fees or gift taxes before delivery
- High profit, no-risk" investments
- "Act now" and other high pressure sales tactics
- A request for a credit card number for identification purposes or to verify that you have won a prize
- Refusal to provide written information or even the most basic details about an organization
- Organizations that are unfamiliar or have only a post office box for an address
Often, victims of scams are too embarrassed by being "taken" to report their losses. It is still important to report scams because con artists can continue to operate them if their crimes remain unreported. Consumers who receive questionable offers or have concerns about offers that appear to be official or have governmental ties, are encouraged to contact the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-646-6222, or to bring it to your local police station.
We hope you are never the victim of a scam and that your hard earned assets are protected in a safe and ethical manner. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Elder Law and Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.
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