Financial Fraud: Why the Elderly Are Targets

One in five people over the age of fifty admits to being a victim of a major fraud according to a study done for the AARP. As technology advances, the harder it is keep up with proper online security and safety measures.  Senior citizens are more vulnerable than ever to being preyed upon by con artists hoping to relieve them of their hard earned assets. The technology gap is only made worse by increased complexity of new computers and handheld devices.

Tip: When approaching the problem of the technology gap, turning it into a family activity and having the young members of the family help the seniors become more familiar with technology and the online community, is a great way to get the entire family engaged and possibly make lasting memories for all that are involved.

The internet and the urgent need to protect their identity and personal information can seem like a mountain sized task for seniors who lack incentive, face economical barriers, and appropriate training to secure their private information. The way that all business is conducted now is vastly different from how it was done “back in the day.” For many, it is still hard to understand that a person’s word and a handshake are not to be relied upon.

These facts, along with a natural decline in cognitive skills, put the elderly at great risk of being taken advantage of financially.  The elderly are also attractive to cyber criminals due to the sometimes large amount of retirement funds they have access to in their bank account. When they are victims to these scams it leaves them in a difficult position of trying to recoup their assets in a short amount of time. In today’s economic climate when everyone is concerned whether they will have enough money to see them all the way through their golden years, it is important to protect every penny.

Open Discussions Close the Door On Scammers

There are several types of frauds aimed at seniors, but financial fraud is by far the hardest for both the elderly and their care givers to detect. The victim of the crime may not even realize something has happened until it is too late.  Feeling unsure or confused about a personal financial matter would ordinarily cause one to investigate further in order to gain a clearer understanding.  The elderly, on the other hand, may chalk their confusion up to the natural aging process. If they do believe that they have been a victim, a senior may be too embarrassed to tell their family.  They may also be concerned that others will use the occurrence as evidence of them not being able to be self reliant and risk losing their financial freedom.

Today’s seniors come from a time when there weren’t open discussions about money and family finances. It may be seen as an offensive invasion of privacy if adult children question an aging parent on the topic. The only way to protect senior citizens from the many different types of frauds and scams that exist is to have a discussion. While it is a difficult conversion to have, it is vital that aging parents be warned about being overly trusting and assured that sharing the suspicion that they may have been taken advantage of will not be used against them. The most successful ways to protect all involved are; open and honest communication, proactive measures on and off line and approaching each case with understanding and empathy.