Phone Scams Targeting the Elderly

Phone Scams Targeting the Elderly

Mar 29

The Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin has recently reported a phone scam targeting the elderly, which involves a caller saying that he was a representative of a federal government agency such as the Internal Revenue Service, and that the government is demanding payment from the elderly person because he has unpaid debts to the government. Police Captain Rick Olig added that another way the scammers play the victims is by pretending to be a member of the sheriff’s office and informing the elderly victim that he has missed jury duty or failed to pay a warrant. The scammer then tells the victim that the charge can go away if the victim will pay the scammer a fee.

Olig reminds citizens, especially the elderly, to be vigilant and not to easily believe people who have been calling them, especially those who state that they are federal officials, if they have not yet shown their identification cards. Also, all correspondence coming from the IRS is written in official letterhead as identifiers, he added.

It is difficult to determine whether an elderly person made an unwise but legitimate financial decision, such as an investment or a payment, or if he has been coerced under due stress, lack of informed consent, or fraud because sometimes a poor financial decision can be made by an elderly person due to bad or non-advice. Usually, financial crimes against the elderly include aside from phone scams, identity theft, internet fraud, check and credit card fraud, and prescription fraud. The United States Special Committee on Aging reported in 2000 that only one in 10,000 elderly fraud victims report said crime to the authorities.

For its part, the National Aging Resource Center on Elder Abuse in 1998, using data from 24 states, determined that 20% of all elder abuse victims in the country were victims of financial exploitation.