In one year alone, seniors lost over $3 billion to scammers, and it’s gotten worse every year. The 60-69 age group was bad enough, but the dollar losses rose even more after age 70, and much more after age 80.
Why are we targeted?
The thieves believe two things about us: We’re all rich and have great credit, having worked our whole lives, and, worst of all, that we won’t tell anyone if we lose money to them. Those two things alone make us constant targets.
All scammers have to do to turn us into victims, according to a study by Stanford and AARP, is raise our emotions. Whether happiness or anger, it doesn’t matter, because either will push us to hand over our information or our money.
For example, scammers will say we’ve won a big prize, like the lottery, but to claim that prize we need to send them processing fees in advance. We think about that prize and our good sense goes out the window.
Emotions come into play when a scammer calls pretending to be a grandchild in trouble. We’re asked to send money right away. We’re upset, and we do. But the emotional pleas for money don’t end there. Romance scams are huge, and too many lonely seniors send cash to their new love without questioning it.
Scammers who pretend to be from the government, such as the IRS, who frighten us into paying money, raise our emotions as well.
The list of scams directed at the elderly is nearly endless: investments, lottery wins, IRS tax bills, low-cost prescriptions, charities, tech repair, cemetery debts, romance, reverse mortgage, help signing up for Medicare, auto warranties …
Beware. If you allow yourself to be scammed once, they will be back, because you’ll be on a list of people who can be fooled.