A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: One in every 18 seniors is a victim of a scam or financial fraud — please speak up

From fake online romances, counterfeit prescription drugs, false IRS phone calls, and email phishing scams, it’s no wonder why one in every 18 seniors is the victim of a scam or financial fraud.

With the number of convincing con artists out there today, it can be hard to tell what’s legitimate and what’s not. It’s a commonly-held belief that senior citizens are the group most likely to fall for a scam.

However, that way of thinking is actually inaccurate.   

According to a BBB report, many younger seniors are described as being less impulsive and are in fact more likely to recognize when something is a scam. That’s why it’s frustrating when they do accidentally allow a scammer access to their private information.

On average, they are the least likely group to report their loss to the authorities or people they know, citing embarrassment, worry about their independence, and ignorance of reporting processes as reasons for keeping quiet about their situation. 

While many seniors are knowledgeable enough to protect themselves from scams, having a support network is beneficial as a second line of defense. Family, friends, and caregivers can act as gatekeepers, identifying potential scams before they have a chance to reach the person.

Additionally, relatives can look for outward signs that a family member is being affected by a scheme. Unpaid bills, increased debt, unfamiliar charges to credit accounts, and an abrupt change in demeanor are all warning signals indicating that your loved one is stuck in an ongoing scam.  

Scammers often change tactics when their old hallmarks are found out, so there are resources available to help seniors recognize these new tricks, giving them the necessary information to protect their personal data. Methods that typically tend to work can be simple by nature, but that doesn’t make them any less effective. Checking credit reports regularly, ignoring calls from unknown caller IDs, and hanging up on information – hungry callers are all easy ways to respond to scam activity. 

For people interested in learning more about protecting themselves or their older relatives, BBB is partnering with local law enforcement and community advocacy agencies to educate the elderly and disabled during a special community forum in Mt. Healthy on Monday, September 11. Additional information can be found in the News section of bbb.org

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Contact Sandra at (513) 639-9126 or sguile@cincinnati.bbb.org. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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