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Seniors are prime targets for scams and identity theft

All kinds of things get stolen!
Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images

More than ever before, we are surrounded by scammers and identity thieves. Their sole purpose is to get your money into their pockets. They prey on seniors more than any other age group, amounting to about $2.6 Billion of the total losses last year!

There are multitudes of ways cheats swindle money from unsuspecting victims. Some include the internet, mailings, telemarketing, products, games, and “freebies.” If the public doesn't stay apprised about the popular crimes de jour, thieves are all the more successful.

Seniors are prime targets for this kind of criminal activity because they’re more likely to have better credit, more savings, and own their own homes. It’s especially true in the realm of cyber-crimes. Compared to other groups, older people are less likely to understand computers, leaving them more vulnerable.

Furthermore, seniors generally have more exploitative traits. Because they grew up in an era where politeness and trust were virtues, they tend to be more naïve and unaware of the devastating dangers lurking around them. Con artists also know the elderly are typically reticent to report fraud, ashamed and afraid their relatives might question their mental acuity.

Additionally, crooks know many crime reporting seniors usually make poor witnesses. That’s because they tend to have more difficulty supplying investigators with sufficient details for successful arrests, indictments, and guilty verdicts. Even more despicable, these thieves often rely on the elderly to have enough memory problems they'll delay reporting a crime, if at all!

Typically, seniors are more likely to fall for other schemes. The most lucrative are medical scams for bogus healthcare products, which tout increased brain function, virility, physical conditioning, and cancer-preempting and fighting abilities. However, fraudulent health insurance, phony money-making offers or winnings, and fake vacation opportunities are not far behind.

By far, identity theft is the most well-known, prevalent form of criminal scams today. It’s an international crisis of epic proportions. In the U.S. alone, losses in 2013 from this crime reached over $34.7 Billion!

The best way to arm against these thieves is to be pro-active, not re-active. Learn what current scams are being perpetrated. Take precautions to keep your vital information out of the hands of strangers. Make sure your computer is protected. Utilize services that help guard against intrusion, and alert you when it is found. While 100% safety can’t be guaranteed, it’s still possible to get very close to it.