The holiday season is prey season for scam artists, particularly those
scam artists who prey on seniors. Scammers target seniors for a variety
of reasons, including the increased likelihood that they live alone, have
more time to answer
cold calls, and will say "yes" under pressure. Unfortunately, while seniors
are prime targets for fraudsters, they’re also the least likely
to be able to afford a loss.
Seniors should be aware of the common phrases con artists use to lure in
new victims. These include promises of "guaranteed returns"
and "zero to no risk," as well as offers that "won’t
be here tomorrow" and offers to "get in on the ground floor."
Younger family members who want to help their older loved ones avoid falling
prey to an investment scheme should check in over the holidays. Go to
their homes and "look around for warning signs," says Bob Denz,
a spokesman for AARP, "[such as] lots of phone call messages, lots
of requests to call back, solicitations, many magazines around or magazine
subscription come-ons, batches of mail and so forth."
Family members should remind seniors to be wary of fraud and not to give
out personal information about themselves or their finances. Placing the
senior on the national "Do Not Call List" may help cut down
on potentially fraudulent phone calls. Seniors should also be advised
that it’s okay to walk away from a deal or hang up on a promoter
who won’t back down. Many elderly victims of investment fraud say
the fraudster was "just so nice" that "it was hard to say
no to him."
To learn more ways to help protect seniors from investment fraud, financial
abuse, and stockbroker misconduct, readCommon Senior Investment Scams here. The AARP’s websitealso features online tools and a host of
information to help seniors fight fraud.