NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Telemarketing Fraud & the Elderly

Telemarketing Fraud & the Elderly

          According to the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Studies by AARP show that older telemarketing fraud victims don’t realize that the voice on the phone could belong to someone who is trying to steal their money. The FBI says that there are thousands of fraudulent telemarketing companies operating in the United States. There are also an increasing number of illegal telemarketers who target U.S. residents from locations in Canada and other countries.

          It’s difficult for victims, especially seniors, to think of fraudulent telemarketers’ actions as crimes, rather than hard sells. Many are even reluctant to admit that they have been cheated or robbed by illegal telemarketers.   AARP research shows that many older victims are active people who are simply lured by false promises of great deals or ways to add to their "nest eggs." Fraudulent telemarketers take advantage of the fact that:

· It’s difficult to tell whether someone is legitimate. Good salespeople are convincing, but so arecrooks. They use many of the same sales tactics—being friendly, getting people excited, and creating a sense of urgency;

· Seniors tend to be trusting. Since they have difficulty imagining that some telemarketers are criminals, they’re more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt;

· It’s easy to wear people down. Seniors are targeted relentlessly—some get more than 20 calls a day from scam artists. They may also receive dozens of mailings eve y week asking keep potential them to call about sweepstakes and other

   · We all want to believe. Who doesn’t want to win a valuable prize? People want to believe that it’s their lucky day, offers; take a free trip, or strike it rich on an investment and may react with anger or suspicion when others question their optimism.,

    Whatever your age or if you are a friend/relative of an elderly person, take time to recognize the "red flags" of fraud:

· A promise that you can win money, make money, or borrow money easily;

· A demand that you act immediately or else miss out on this great opportunity;

· A refusal to send you written information before you agree to buy or donate;

· An attempt to scare you into buying something;

· Insistence that you wire money or have a courier pick up your payment

· A refusal to stop calling after you’ve asked not to be called again.



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