Beware of scam tricks that target older adults

Eye on Scams

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Experts are warning of tricks used to scam older adults. No matter your age, no one is immune to scams. However, older adults report higher median losses.

Scammers often target this group with schemes, such as investment fraud and romance scams, where victims lose thousands of dollars.

“They’re targeting the elderly because first of all, they usually have more financial resources,” Laurian Clause, with the Better Business Bureau said. “They’re usually retired. They’re home so they’re home to answer the phone. They’re home to answer that door.”

According to the 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, fraud susceptibility decreases as you get older, but dollar loss actually increases with age.

Adults over age 65 reported a median loss of $350— That’s a significant increase from the average $100 lost by people ages 18–24.

“A lot of them are targeting the elderly that are single, widowed, or divorced, and so in those cases, they’re not consulting maybe their neighbors or family or friends about a situation that’s in question,” explained Clause. “A lot of times these go unreported because they’re embarrassed and scammers know this.”

Experts say older people are more likely to be targeted by travel schemes, home improvement cons, romance scams, and investment fraud.

 “It’s that heightened state of emergency that people don’t think rationally,” Bobby Savoie, with AARP Louisiana State President, explained. “They want to do the right thing. They want to what’s best for their grandchild or whoever it might be, and then without thinking, until after the fact, once they realized that they’ve sent money.”

“We’re all at risk,” added Clause. “These scammers know how to go in and target you and the elderly are a target for that reason.”

Savoie said it’s important to be vigilant when speaking with someone you don’t know.

“Anytime someone asks you for money, that would be a red flag,” added Savoie. “Send money to get money, that ought to be a red flag. Do your homework.”

The Better Business Bureau has some ways to spot these scams:

  • Watch out for phone fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reports that fraudulent telemarketers often direct their calls at older adults
  • Only hire trustworthy, licensed contractors. Older adults often need extra help around the house and may hire someone to complete a renovation project.
  • Strange phone call? Might be an emergency scam: Older adults can be susceptible to emergency scams and other ploys.
  • Watch out for Medicare fraud: This is one scam that’s aimed right at older Americans– scammers claiming they can give you free medical equipment.

If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at smasters@klfy.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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