Scamming has become so prevalent in society thatpopular talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil have dedicated entire segments to the topic!Scammers will stop at nothing to get what they want, and seniors and the disabled are common prey for scam artists.
According to a June 2010 survey by Investor Protection Trust, more than 7.3 million seniorcitizens-roughly 20 percent of Americans aged 65 or older-have “been taken advantage of financially interms of an inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud.”
According to a study done by the AmericanAssociation of Retired Persons (AARP), older peopleare quicker to believe promises and slower to take action to protect legal rights.
Here are a few scams which seniors are most vulnerable to. Medicare Scam Telemarketing Scams Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Scams Door-To-Door Scams Charity Scams Prizes & Sweepstakes Scams Counterfeit Drug Scams Funeral & Cemetery Scams Reverse Mortgage Scams Jury Duty Scam (verified by the FBI)
Reasons why Seniors are the target• Older people are very generous in helping others• 75% of the wealth in the U.S. is controlled by senior citizens and so are financially more stable.• Seniors are more polite and trusting and these traits are exploited by scammers.• Majority of the seniors live alone and hence are more susceptible to fall victim to con artists.• Senior fraud cases are rarely reported as they do not know who and where to report to.
Few tips to prevent fraudNever give away your money or personalinformation such as credit card numbers, bankaccount numbers, or Social Security numbers tounknown persons.Never allow anyone you don’t know into your home.Check out unfamiliar companies with your localconsumer protection agency, Better Business Bureauor the National Fraud Information Center.
Talk to family and friends or call your lawyer,accountant or banker and get their advice before youmake any large purchase or investment over thephone with a stranger.Educate Yourself - Arm yourself with one of the besttools to combat scammer: knowledge.Knowledge is power and one of the best ways tomaking yourself and your loved ones less vulnerableis learning about whats going on out there, beingaware of your surroundings and knowing how todefend yourself.
Helpful Resources to Prevent ScamsFederal Trade Commission - www.ftc.gov - The Federal TradeCommission, the nations consumer protection agency, collectscomplaints about companies, business practices, and identitytheft.FBI - http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors/seniors -Provides tips on how you can protect you and your family fromfraud, with an emphasis on scams that target seniors.The National Fraud Information Center - www.fraud.org - TheNFIC is a project of the National Consumers League andprovides tips for fighting frauds targeted at older consumers.
Better Business Bureau - www.bbb.org - The BBB’s mission is topromote and foster the highest ethical relationship betweenbusinesses and the public through voluntary self-regulation,consumer and business education, and service excellence. Youcan find your local office on the BBB’s Web site.American Association of Retired Persons - www.aarp.org -AARP provides seniors with information on financial planning,using home equity, avoiding fraud, and consumer rights.
Have you or has someone you love been the victim of scammers taking advantage of seniors? The best thing we can do is come together and promote awareness to better protect those who are most vulnerable.
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