Like most bullies, scammers are cowards, targeting and picking on those who seem especially vulnerable. Sadly, the elderly have long been a demographic that scammers view as easy targets. Often isolated and living on a fixed income, NCL’s annual Top Scams Report consistently lists the elderly as the age group most likely to be the victim of a fraud.
Over the past year, NCL’s Fraud Center has seen an increase in complaints from consumers over the age of 65, but a study released earlier this month shows just how severe the problem has grown. The study, conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, found that financial abuse of older Americans has increased by 12 percent over the last three years, causing about $3 billion dollars in loses annually.
The study also revealed that:
- The majority of victims were between the ages of 80 and 89, lived alone, and required help with health care or home maintenance.
- Almost 60 percent of the perpetrators were male
- Women were targeted twice as often as men.
- Victims were particularly vulnerable during the holidays.
Crimes in which the perpetrators were strangers to the victim accounted for the majority of cases (51 percent), but family members or friends committed a whopping 34 percent of crimes against the elderly. Twelve percent of crimes were from the business sector, and four percent were from Medicare or Medicaid fraud.