While all forms of scams and fraud are painful and can leave the victims with feelings of mistrust, crimes that target the elderly are especially hurtful. The willingness to trust others that many senior citizens have, coupled with the fact that so many are living on a fixed income, means anyone who’s willing to defraud an elderly person has absolutely no moral compass.
Fortunately, there are organizations who are taking major steps to educate seniors and prevent elder fraud. AARP is one such group, and they’re leading the way in helping keep older adults informed about the types of crimes that target them specifically. An Oregon branch of the agency recently conducted a statewide training for volunteers and stakeholders, intent on educating those who work closely with senior adults.
There were some key takeaways from the training. One involved identifying what types of scams there are and categorizing those into three main subgroups. The three major groups of scams are ones that are based off of a fear of some kind, like legal or financial trouble for failing to comply with the scammer’s proposal; sympathy scams that pluck the victim’s heartstrings and convince him to turn over his money or his identity; and greed-based scams that offer the victim ridiculous amounts of “free” money in exchange for complying with the scammer’s offer.
Another important aspect of working with attendees in order to curb elder scams is helping them recognize the reluctance that many victims have towards reporting the scam. No one wants to admit he was duped by a fraud attempt, but for senior citizens who fear losing their independence, admitting that they were victims can put them one step closer to having their finances scrutinized or their living situation called into question. For this reason, many victims are reluctant to seek help after they realize they’ve been taken for a ride, or worse, may continue to pay money to scammers in hopes of deluding themselves that this might still be genuine.
This event was only the latest of AARP’s efforts to keep its members and non-members alike safe from identity theft, fraud, and scams. The agency’s Fraud Watch Network sends out alerts to anyone who chooses to register—again, no AARP membership is required to receive the alerts—and informs them of the latest news concerning this type of crime.
Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.