Scams perpetrated against seniors are proliferating to such a degree in the United States that the FBI is distributing informational placemats to senior centers and other gathering places so older adults can learn about targeted scams and how to protect themselves. According to FBI statistics, elder fraud increased by 84 percent in 2022, costing seniors more than $3 billion.
The average fraud victim loses about $35,000, and older adults are often the prey of criminals, especially as more seniors use the internet and social media, leaving them more vulnerable to online financial scams. Seniors may avoid telling their adult children or other family members about suspected scams, fearing they will lose their independence.
The placemats educate older adults about commonly used fraud tactics, and how to protect themselves by not clicking links, verifying identity, and taking the time to talk with a trusted loved one before sending money to anyone. Tech fraud, investment scams, government impersonation, grandchild and romance scams are just a few forms of fraud that can be the most costly for older adults.
Seniors with memory problems or other cognitive impairments can often be the target of scammers who will pressure older adults to make a quick decision, not giving them time to think or consult with a family member or friend. Seniors who believe they may be the victim of a scam should contact the police.
Loved ones of elderly adults can help seniors avoid scammers with education and financial oversight. Research has shown that up to eight years prior to a dementia diagnosis, older adults begin losing wealth at a rate much faster than among healthy seniors. Researchers suggest cognitive decline can be reflected in a deteriorating ability to manage finances, including greater susceptibility to fraud.
Learn more about scams and fraud, and how to protect yourself by following this link to the Canadian Fraud Centre.