Understanding Why Older Adults Are Targeted. Con artists and scammers often target older adults. According to one estimate, seniors represent fifteen (15) percent of the population but attract more than thirty (30) percent of reported fraud. Considering the likelihood that many incidents are not reported, the problem is probably far greater.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, scam artists target older adults because of these common characteristics:
• More trusting and polite: Older adults are part of a generation that often based deals on trust and a handshake. Also, they may not want to appear rude, so they are less included to simply hang up the phone, even if the offer sounds to good to be true. They want to believe the other person.
• Looking to bolster retirement savings: Often retired and on fixed incomes, seniors may be especially vulnerable to "risk-free" investments. As a result, they may invest a great deal of money in an investment that promises a high rate of return.
• More assets: The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates that people over the age of 50 control more than 70% of our nation's wealth.
They are more likely to have retirement savings, own their own home, and/or have excellent credit. Scammers know that!
• May not report fraud: Seniors are less likely to report fraud because they may not know who to report it to, may be ashamed or do not know they have been scammed.
• May be independent and/or isolated: Living alone or far from family may make some older adults more vulnerable to scams and fraud. They may not have anyone with whom to discuss too-good-to-be-true investment offers.
Older adults, caregivers, friends, relatives, and neighbors of older Ohioans all play a crucial role in preventing fraud. Education and outreach are vital in this effort. By informing loved ones about topics covered in the SAFE Toolkit, consumers can help keep others from falling victim to scams. Reporting fraud to the proper authorities, including local law enforcement and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, is also important in protecting Ohio families from financial predators.