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Crime & Safety
Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Why Are Older Adults Reporting Higher Median Losses To Scams?

Better Business Bureau

No matter your age, no one is immune to scams.

But, older adults report higher median losses. Why is that? 

Scammers often target this group with schemes, such as investment fraud and romance scams, where victims lose thousands of dollars. 

One common scamming technique is phone fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reports that fraudulent telemarketers often direct their calls at older adults. Scammers claim to be calling in an official capacity as a government agent or bank employee. They may sound friendly and courteous, or aggressive and threatening. They may even have a caller ID to match their claims. When in doubt, hang up the phone and call the official source to verify unexpected or unusual claims

If you receive a strange phone call, it might be an emergency scam. Older adults can be susceptible to emergency scams and other ploys because they aren’t familiar with the information about themselves and their family available online. This trick begins with a phone call from someone posing as your grandchild or other young family member. Scammers research victims using social media and often know family names, travel plans, and other details. The phony grandchild will claim to be out of town and in an emergency situation – anything from a car accident to wrongful arrest. The scam artist will urge you to send money ASAP and not to tell mom or dad.

Scammers want victims to feel isolated. Don’t hesitate to contact a friend, family member, or organization you trust for advice. A second opinion can greatly reduce your risk.

Older adults often need extra help around the house and may hire someone to complete a renovation project or landscape work. However, never hire someone who simply shows up at your door, and don’t let them in or around your home for “inspections.” Instead, if you need repair work, use BBB.org to search for accredited businesses, and ask friends and family for recommendations. Only hire trustworthy, licensed contractors.