'Tis The Season ... For Scams Against Seniors

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.

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