Older people are not necessarily easier marks for con artists, but they do tend to fall victim to scams simply because they are targeted more than the rest of the population, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In a web page devoted entirely to the subject, this and other factors point out how at risk senior citizens can be to those who would cheat them out of their money and good credit.
“Senior citizens are most likely to have a ‘nest egg,’ to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit, all of which make them attractive to con artists,” the site points out . “People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say ‘no’ or just hang up the telephone.
“Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.”
In addition, the FBI notes that even when older Americans do report being victims of confidence tricksters, they are often not the best witnesses when cases come to trial.
The site offers these lines that signal it would be wise to simply hang up on a telemarketing call:
- “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”
- “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
- “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.”
- “You don’t need any written information about the company or its references.”
- “You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”