Whether or not these characteristics hold true, senior citizens are often perceived as being kind, generous, trusting and wealthy, which are qualities that scam artists may target. Just like in school, these mal-intentioned people take advantage of others' weaknesses - in the case of seniors, it can be anything from their manners to their lack of technological savvy.
The FBI reports that senior citizens are attractive to con artists for a number of reasons, even if they are based off stereotypes or generalizations.
Rich - Seniors are the most likely demographic to own their own home, have a nest egg and have excellent credit.
Polite - Growing up in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, seniors were raised to be polite, making it difficult for them to say "no" to a seemingly nice person or hang up the phone on a telemarketing scam.
Forgetful - If an elderly person reports the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists count on the fact that seniors will not be able to supply enough information to investigators.
Common Scams to Watch For
However upsetting this is, there are steps that you can take to make sure your elderly loved ones are protected from scams ranging from finances to medications.
Healthcare or health insurance fraud is one common way that criminals steal from seniors. Scam artists may promise "free" medical equipment and then charge for it, or bill insurance or Medicare for fake tests or services that were not performed. To prevent this, seniors should never sign blank insurance claim forms, never give blanket authorization to a medical provider for services and never do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople.
Counterfeit prescription drugs scams are another popular scam that seniors often fall victim to. Seniors should always pay attention to packaging and the lot numbers of prescription drugs to ensure they haven't been changed between refills. In addition, seniors should be aware that product promotions, sales or other deals may be associated with counterfeit products and avoid these temptations. The same recommendations apply to anti-aging products, another large area where seniors get scammed.
Financial fraud through telemarketing and the internet also seriously affects many seniors. These scams often involve free prizes, inexpensive vacations, the need to "act now" or lose the deal, or give a credit card or bank account number over the phone or online. To avoid these scams, make sure your older loved one knows what to look for. They should never buy over the phone from an unfamiliar company, and should always wait for written materials about any offer or charity cause. Even then, the documents should be reviewed by someone they trust. They should also know that they can take their time when making a decision, as no legitimate company will pressure a senior to decide on the spot.