Scam of the Month (October 2016): Why are Seniors Targeted and How to Prevent Fraud

COA_1Scam artists prey on older adults. Why are seniors more likely to be targeted? Here are some reasons:

  • Seniors are more likely to have excellent credit, an established savings account and own their home. All of these make them attractive to scammers.
  • Seniors were raised in an era that taught individuals to be polite and trusting. Scammers exploit these qualities, knowing that it is hard to say “no” or even hang up the telephone.
  • Older adults that have been the victim of a scam or con, are less likely to report the crime. Many do not even know they have been conned, or they are ashamed or simply do not know how to report the fraud.
  • Loneliness is also a factor for some seniors. Often, they are grateful to have someone to talk to, not even considering that the “nice person” is preying on them.

Fraud against older adults is a serious problem affecting thousands every year. Seniors and caregivers can help protect themselves and/or loved ones from scam artists and fraud.  These tips can help prevent you from being a victim.

  • If you are a concerned caregiver, involve yourself in financial decisions as much as possible.
  • Never give out banking information, credit card or social security numbers
  • When speaking with a salesperson, ask for the company’s name, address and telephone number. If they do not want to provide it, do business with someone else.
  • If you receive a call from a “government agency” requesting money, ask for a certified letter on official letterhead.
  • Never hire someone who shows up at your door. If you are told the plumbing or roof needs repair, the scammer might take the money and never do the work.
  • Avoid making “on-the-spot” decisions. Legitimate companies will not have an issue with you taking time to look into the deal.
  • Stay away from investments that promise huge profits with no risk. Legitimate investment companies will warn you of investment risks.
  • Register your telephone number on the National Do Not Call list by calling 1-888-382-1222 or online at This will help limit calls from solicitors.

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation and

The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee strives to ensure that the community values, honors and supports older adults and caregivers by addressing unmet needs through information, advocacy and education and by being a catalyst for comprehensive solutions.