Grandparent scam, charity scam, funeral scam, sweepstakes scam. The list goes on.
Fraudulent ploys to get money from senior citizens are so common these days that many have their own name.
The Federal Trade Commission said people 60 and older make up 26 percent of all fraud complaints – the most of any age group. The National Center for Victims of Crime puts the annual total cost of financial fraud in the $40 billion range and points out that those of Medicare age are more likely to be targeted.
Hoping to make a dent in those staggering numbers, the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions, Kentucky AARP and other groups are sponsoring a free Senior Scam Jam from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday at the Logan County Extension Office in Russellville.
“One in five adults over age 65 have been the victim of a financial swindle,” said Kelly May, public information officer for the Department of Financial Institutions. “People who know more about money are more likely to be victimized. Not asking for help or not checking it out leads to trouble.”
Thursday’s event is aimed at helping seniors avoid that trouble. Topics will include Medicare fraud, investment fraud, identity theft, cyber crime and mail fraud.
“We try to make it a fun day with a lot of different topics and speakers,” May said. “We want people to be able to protect themselves.”
Events such as the Senior Scam Jam are growing in importance as more seniors are targeted, Bowling Green Police Department Officer Ronnie Ward said.
“It’s unfortunate that these (elderly) folks are the ones who seem to be targeted,” Ward said. “The thought is that they have more discretionary funds and are more likely to be at home during the day to take a call.”
The Senior Scam Jam, which has been held for the past 10 years in various Kentucky locations, can provide the tools seniors need to avoid being scammed, Ward said.
“The best way to protect yourself is through education,” he said. “This is an avenue for experts to share information about how to avoid scams of all types.”
Avoiding scams is important, Ward said, because tracking down scammers after the fact isn’t easy.
“There’s very little if anything the police can do to help you if you’ve been scammed,” he said. “The perpetrators are generally in other countries where the police have no jurisdiction. What makes these scams so believable is the caller ID might say they’re calling from the United States or even from a local number.”
The cleverness of scammers, whether they’re on the phone or online, can’t be underestimated, May said.
“Con artists can be really convincing,” she said. “Not all of them make ridiculous promises. Sometimes it’s enough to make you think it could happen.”
If a con artist does separate you from some of your money, Ward said the best thing to do is call law enforcement.
“You should report it,” he said. “We develop trends from that information and learn what scams are out there. You should call the police department and then tell your friends so they won’t fall victim as well. Your unfortunate situation may help someone else.”
For more information or to register for the Senior Scam Jam, call 877-926-8300 or visit aarp.cvent.com/russell villescamjam2018.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.