Scam Alert: 4 Types of Fraud That Target the Elderly (and How to Beat Them)

Scams target people of all ages, but the most vulnerable tend to be older adults — and the money they lose can have a big impact on their retirement. According to the National Council on Aging, seniors lose an estimated $3 billion each year to financial scams!

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Those in or near retirement can't afford to fall for scams. Retirees are on a fixed income, so losing money to fraud is especially detrimental to them, as the money lost often cannot be replaced. It's important to understand why fraudsters target seniors and how you can be savvier than the scammers.

There are several reasons scammers target seniors. The biggest reason is they often have more money. People 50 and older hold 83% of the wealth (opens in new tab) in America, and households headed by people in their 70s have the highest median net worth. Scammers see this as an opportunity.

In addition, seniors were raised to be polite (opens in new tab). Older Americans may think it’s rude to hang up the phone on someone, and scammers can exploit their hesitation to disconnect. Finally, seniors tend to be lonely and more eager to talk to a stranger on the phone. Scammers might also target widows or older divorced women (opens in new tab) who are emotionally vulnerable.

Here are four of the most common scams seniors should watch out for:

This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Tony Drake, CFP®, Investment Advisor Representative
Founder & CEO, Drake and Associates

Tony Drake is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™and the founder and CEO of Drake & Associates (opens in new tab) in Waukesha, Wis. Tony is an Investment Adviser Representative and has helped clients prepare for retirement for more than a decade. He hosts The Retirement Ready Radio Show on WTMJ Radio each week and is featured regularly on TV stations in Milwaukee. Tony is passionate about building strong relationships with his clients so he can help them build a strong plan for their retirement.