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Why are the elderly common fraud targets?

The elderly are often targeted with scams and fraud. In fact, a study carried out by MetLife looked at the numbers from 2010 and found that those over the age of 59 lost a total of $2.9 billion that year alone. On top of that, the Federal Trade Commission looked at telemarketing scams and discovered that 80 percent of them were aimed at people over 60. Why is this?

There are a few reasons, one of which is that those carrying out the fraud tend to think that it's easier to confuse older people. They also believe that older people are more likely to give out personal information after hearing their stories, whereas younger people may be more likely to see the red flags, no matter how good the story is, and walk away.

Some reports have also indicated that young people are less likely to make small talk than the elderly. If a 25-year-old gets a phone call from someone she doesn't know, she may hang up right away -- if she answers at all. If an elderly person gets the same call, he may stay on the line.

Finally, elderly people may sometimes figure out they've been scammed and feel embarrassed or ashamed, rather than outraged. This creates the perception that they would be more likely to stay silent and not call the police to report it, so scammers will target them since there is less risk.

These are just a few reasons of many, and they don't even touch on the areas of disposable income or savings levels, but they help show that the elderly are targeted by fraud often enough that it's a serious concern. If this happens to you -- or an elderly loved one -- it's important to know all of the legal options that exist.

Source: Stetson.edu, "Why are the elderly being targeted for consumer fraud and scams?," accessed Jan. 18, 2017

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