The number of scams that exist specifically to defraud people out of their money and belongings are numerous—and the people most targeted are older adults.
According to the North American Securities Administration Association, an estimated $37 billion is stolen from older adults each year. It’s such a problem that elder financial abuse is often referred to as the “crime of the 21st century.”
When it comes specifically to fraud, the FBI Internet Crime Report found that in 2021, older adults over 60 lost $1.7 billion. Sadly, AARP reports that roughly 90% of financial elder abuse is committed by an older adult’s family and friends.
"According to the North American Securities Administration Association, an estimated $37 billion is stolen from older adults each year."
Why are older adults targeted so aggressively?
Well, for one, there’s a perception that they have significant savings to leverage. Older adults are also more easily targeted because as they age, their memory capacity declines and they might get confused, not be as tech savvy, and often, they might be too embarrassed to report it when they are scammed. Common financial scams currently targeting older adults include government impersonation, sweepstakes/contests, and telemarketing. There are numerous others, however, including fake investment scams, charity scams, counterfeit prescription drug scams, and funeral and cemetery scams. There is also a grandparent scam where the perpetrator calls an older adult and poses as the person’s grandchild in distress and asks for money.
To protect yourself or a loved one, here are some steps you can take according to AgingInPlace.org, FBI.gov, and Aura: If you do find that you’ve been scammed, don’t feel embarrassed or afraid to report it to the local police. You can also report it online to the FTC. Tell your family or trusted friends. Anyone can be scammed, and you’re not the one to blame.
- Talk to a lawyer before signing any legal documents.
- Do more research or ask a loved one when something sounds too good to be true, like a vacation or prescription drug.
- Never give away information without knowing if it’s a trusted source.
- Leave notes on computers, phones, and doors reminding yourself or a loved one to take a moment to assess the situation before acting—and to call a trusted person when in doubt.
- If you get an email, phone call, a person at your door that are unsolicited or suspicious, you can delete the email, hang up, close the door at any time.
- Talk to your doctor before agreeing to health treatments not covered by insurance.
- Monitor your financial statements for unusual activity.
- Consult family members and caregivers about potential purchases.