Telemarketing and Scamming: Seniors Are the Focus

It should be no real surprise that the elderly are the favorite targets of scammers. This isn't because seniors are more or less intelligent than the rest of us, but many seniors choose not to stay updated when it comes to the fast pace of technology. Scammers understand this and use this fact to their advantage. One way they do this is by using telemarketing scams.

These scammers actually manipulate their targets by spinning the conversation into one where the senior feels as if they are losing something or missing an opportunity.

These high pressure calls usually involve an issue that is slightly familiar to the victim, yet there are confusing aspects of it. The scammer also tends to use basic language, but with words that may be over the victim's head.

Once a scammer has a target in their crosshairs, he likely will not stop until the senior's bank account is drained. These scammers are so convincing, some victims will even pull equity out of their home.

It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our day to day life, we often forget that our older loved ones may be vulnerable. It is important that you check on these people, just to make sure that they aren't involved in some type of scam.

Other Reasons Seniors are Often Targeted by Scammers

There are a number of reasons seniors are targeted by scammers including the following:

  • Senior citizens usually have a "nest egg,"  they own a home, and usually have good credit, which makes them very attractive to scammers.
  • People who grew up in the 30s, 40s and 50s were typically raised to be trusting, polite and above all, respect authority. Scammers know that it is difficult for these people to say no due to this upbringing.
  • The elderly are less likely to report crimes like these as they do not know who to report it to. Alternatively, they may be ashamed of being scammed, may not want family to know they were scammed or may not even realize they have been scammed.
  • When a senior citizen reports a crime, they are usually seen as a poor witness. A con artist knows that age has an effect on memory, and they count on seniors to not be able to supply a lot of detailed information to an investigator. Also, the victims' realization that they have been a victim may take weeks or even months after making contact with a fraudster. This time frame makes it much more difficult to remember the details of the event.
  • Seniors are also into products that promise an increased cognitive function, physical conditioning and virility. They also are interested in products that claim to fight cancer. There isn’t a late night infomercial on slowing down the age process that my 85 year old mother in law hasn’t thrown here credit card at.
  • We live in a country where new vaccinations and cures bring hope to many, and seniors grew up in an era where several terrible diseases were eradicated or became curable. Because of this, it is not a long shot to them to hear about new treatments, and they easily buy into it.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

If you or a loved one is over the age of 60, you may be a target of those who are trying to sell bogus services or products by telephone.

These scams often involve the promise of prizes, low-cost medications or inexpensive vacations. Fortunately, there are warning signs, and if you or your loved ones hear the following on the other end of the line, you should use extreme caution:

  • "Act now before the offer disappears for good."
  • "You have won a free vacation, gift or prize. All you have to pay is the postage and handling."
  • "Make sure to send money, give me your bank account number or have a check ready for pick up." This usually occurs before you have a chance to consider an offer.
  • "There is no need to research our company or tell anyone about this offer." This is usually said so the victim doesn't look into the company or tell their family or friends about it.
  • "You don't need to obtain any written information about our company."
  • "You cannot afford to miss this no-risk, high-profit offer."

    If you suspect you or your family member is a victim of this type of scam, contact the law enforcement department in your area.