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Scams on the elderly are growing, but nothing is being done about it

2 minute read

If you don’t know someone who’s been scammed, it means you’re about to be scammed. Especially if you’re hitting retirement age.

A survey from trade group Cooperative Credit Union Association says that older people are easy victims to scammers, who are targeted more than other age groups. Almost half of those targeted didn’t have a plan in place for what to do if they were a victim of a scam.

Two-thirds of elderly caretakers say their older friends and family have been targets of fraud. More than one-quarter were victims of financial scammers.

“While regulators are working hard to address the scourge of financial fraud, education is key, particularly with hundreds of millions of Americans’ personal information readily available to criminals,” says CCUA CEO Paul Gentile. “All financial consumers need to take steps to protect themselves financially and digitally, including by being aware of the latest trends in frauds and scams.”

Almost half of caregivers — 44 percent — say their elders didn’t have a response plan in place for if (and when) they became victims of fraud or identity theft. Almost 40 percent say their elders aren’t financially literate. There are a few — 25 percent —didn’t think to discuss possible scams with their elderly.

It’s hard for caregivers to know how to handle a situation like this, but scamming seniors is nothing new. Fraudsters know that elderly are trusting very easily; if they get a call or letter in the mail about an unknown or outstanding bill, many will respond by paying it, without inspecting it further. Without questioning where it’s coming from, many older Americans are setting themselves to get scammed. Caregivers suffer just as much as seniors do when they get ripped off.

This year, our country is getting hacked faster and more often than ever before. Data breaches hit a record half-year high and it’s only increasing as 2017 ends. Businesses continue to be one of the biggest threats to consumer data breaches, as many of them cannot keep up with major security breakdowns.

Security, in general, is down. Major corporations and institutions, like banks, retailers, and colleges, are not prepared to handle what could happen if their company was hacked. Banks have the highest risk of fraud, but other groups, like post-secondary institutions, face understaffing woes, especially in information technology. This major setback is costing them when it comes to protecting privacy of their students and staff.

IT staff — those who actually have jobs — know that they are limited in what they can do for their companies. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge or money to put toward better security (and more staff), companies are not prepared to handle breaches, even as they become more frequent. Many companies believe the skills to tackle a potential breach has changed, even within the last two years.

Be cautious of where you input your personal information. Even as you are shopping online at a trusted site or running out to get paper towels, it’s easy for your information to get compromised.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a full-time freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She’s president of Blossomers Media, Inc., a web development and online media consulting company. Along with her work on, she’s been a longtime freelancer for Money Talks News — a personal and consumer finance website — and South Florida Gay News — the largest weekly LGBT newspaper in the South. Zinn has written for a variety of other publications, including Huffington Post, The Week, Quartz, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Indulge, and

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