Why Do Scammers Target The Elderly?
Unfortunately, scammers exist. They lurk in the shadows waiting. Why are they waiting? Scammers are waiting for us to get on our computers, open our mail or answer our phones. They need to interact us for their scams to work.
All of us are potential targets for scammers. Unfortunately, the older we are, the more likely a scammer will target us. Elderly people. are often financially exploited. And not just by strangers.
Elderly Financial Exploitation
Let’s talk a little bit about financial exploitation of the elderly. Bad people often exploit the elderly. Sad, right? Even sadder is that family members usually commit the financial exploitation.
Recent studies find sixty percent of the abusers are adult children! Can you imagine stealing from your parents? Unfortunately, it happens more often than you think.
Females make up more than 60% of the financial exploitation victims. Nearly one-half of the elderly victims are at least 80 years old.
Race is also a factor unfortunately. More African Americans are victims than not.
Nonetheless, financial exploitation is a heinous crime. Why? The victims are abused by their own loved ones. People the victims are supposed to trust. You call your loved ones when you have a problem. But, when your loved one is the problem, then who do you call?
Scammers target seniors more often than not. Scammers want money. So, scammers need to target someone with money.
Scammers are smart. They know someone just starting out in life does not have a lot of money. Young adults have student loans. They have mortgages. They have debt. So, these young adults do not make good targets.
But, guess who has money? Yep, seniors. Seniors have money and usually little debt. Unfortunately, that is what makes seniors grate targets for scammers.
According to one study in 2016, people over the age of 50, hold 85% percent of the country’s wealth. So, by the same analysis, people under 50 only hold 15% of the wealth. If you are a scammer, which group will yield you the best results? If you said seniors, you would be 100% correct.
So, let’s talk about specific reasons why seniors are targets for scammers.
Senior have more savings
Typically, the elderly have more savings. Unlike younger people, oder Americans will typically have saved up a lot more money. Seniors tend to not have a lot of credit card debt. But, seniors do have a lengthy credit history. Consequently, seniors have a higher credit score. So, seniors are more credit worthy.
By contrast, a younger person typically has debt. Because they are just starting out, a younger person has little to no savings. The younger person has little credit history and most likely, a lower credit score.
So, scammers do not want to target the younger person. Instead, scammers want to target the credit-worthy senior citizen.
When you have good credit, what happens? You are able to qualify for high limit credit cards.
Now most seniors do not want additional credit cards. But, the scammers do. So, they gather personal information from the elderly. The scammers then use that personal information to open credit cards.
The scammers take out those credit cards and loan. They max out the credit cards and loans. Meanwhile, the poor senior citizen has no idea this is happening. Until a collection agency calls demanding payment for money the senior citizen never used.
Seniors Are More Trusting
Another reason that seniors are more of a target for scammers is that unfortunately, they tend to be more trusting.
Senior citizens grew up in a time where you could take a person at his or her word. Deals were made through handshakes, not contracts.
If someone said they needed money, you gave them money if you had money to give. People did not pretend to be homeless back in the day.
Seniors also grew up in time where you were polite. You did not contradict someone. You took a person at his or her word.
But, times have changed unfortunately. Now, the scammers have caught on to the senior’s trusting nature. And, they prey on the senior’s trusting nature.
Seniors Are New To The Digital Age
You see, seniors didn’t grow up in the digital age. And because of this, they are much more trusting of the internet. They may not know about suspicious links.
When someone emails them pretending to be their bank, a senior is more likely to open that email. Worse, a senior is more likely to click on a suspicious link.
If a message pops up on his compute saying a virus has been detected, a senior citizen is more likely to call the number that appears. When they call that number, a scammer is able to get the senior citizen’s credit card number to “fix the problem.” Also, the scammer is able to gain remote access to the senior citizen’s information.
A senior citizen may give personal information or money to someone impersonating a loved one on line. Or worse, a potential love interest.
Seniors Are Concerned About Their Independence
Another reason is that seniors make a great target because they are very afraid of what others will think. Now what do I mean by that?
As we age, we start to lose some of our abilities. We can’t do what we used to do when were younger. We have trouble with balance. Memory starts to become more difficult.
As a result, many seniors are afraid of losing their independence. These seniors worry about dementia. They worry their loved ones are going to think they can no longer live alone.
Due to these worries, a senior citizen is less likely to report being the victim of a scam. He is embarrassed. He is worried his loved ones will yell at him for being stupid. Worse, he is afraid his loved ones will judge him harshly. What if my family puts me in a home because I fell for this scam?
Senior citizens have these feelings and thoughts when they are victimized. As a result, the senior citizen tends not to report the scam. And, scammers know this. This is why scammers target the elderly.
Stopping The Scammers
Talk to your elderly parents about scammers. Educate them about current scams. Talk to them about not giving personal information to strangers.
Reassure your elderly loved ones that you will not judge them if they fall victim to a scam. Make sure your elderly loved ones know they can come to you with a problem without judgment. Let them feel free to come to you if there is an issue.
Make sure you talk to your elderly parents frequently. Ask them about their day – the good, bad and ugly. Ask them if anything unusual happened lately.
Most importantly, stay involved and keep your senior loved ones informed of scammers. Remind them not to be so trusting. And, remind them that they should come to you if they are in doubt about something.