As we grow older, we have new issues and concerns to deal with that we never had to before. Health issues, Medicaid issues and related concerns are all relatively new to us and we need to adapt. One issue most people are not prepared for when they grow older is the prevalence of scamming.

According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans are victimized by financial fraud every year. If you want to avoid this problem or help an elderly relative avoid being scammed, it is critical to understand why scam artists target the elderly in the first place.

Why elderly people are targeted

Although these factors do not apply to everyone, as a general matter, many elderly people:

  1. Have some money: Often elderly people have homes they have paid off, savings and good credit scores. Further, many elderly people are more generous than they were when they were younger. Money is not as pressing of an issue as it once was for many elderly people.
  2. Are vulnerable: The fact is, as we get older, we are increasingly alienated from the technological developments of the world around us. We need to trust people more than we ever have. Perhaps we are not at the height of our ability to process complex information. We are sometimes lonely and in need of more human contact. All of these factors make elderly people more vulnerable to the seductive techniques of scam artists.
  3. Are reluctant to report a scam: Because an elderly person could be embarrassed by being scammed, or they find the process of reporting a scam too complicated, many elderly people are reluctant to report when they think they’ve been scammed.

When scam artists look for a mark, these factors above provide good incentive for them to target elderly victims.

What to do if you have been targeted

A basic rule of thumb is to be generally wary of new relationships and any requests for personal information. Unless you already know someone well, do not trust them right away, and ask someone you do know and trust if you have even the slightest suspicion.

If you have been victimized by a financial scam, talk with an elder law attorney right away. It is important not to let feelings of embarrassment slow you down. This kind of thing happens all the time, and getting a lawyer involved quickly could be critical to getting your money back.