Why Don’t Seniors Report When They Are Victims of Fraud?

February 12, 2018

Older adults are targets of scams and fraud.

Seniors are often the target of scams and fraud but rarely report it. Here’s what families should know.

It’s an unfortunate reality but one that is important to be aware of: older adults are targets of scams and fraud more often than any other age group. The problem is further compounded by the fact that when seniors do fall victim to fraud, they often don’t report it to local police.

Research shows that only 1 in 25 fraud-related crimes are reported to law enforcement. This under-reporting makes it difficult for families of seniors to realize there is a problem and help intervene on their loved one’s behalf.

Why aren’t older adults reporting these crimes when they touch their lives?

There are a variety of reasons and some are unique to the perceptions surrounding aging.

3 Reasons Older Adults Don’t Report Fraud

1. Seniors see it is a sign of old age: Falling victim to a crime of this type is often perceived to be a sign of old age. Many people who are older might not want to admit they’ve been scammed for this very reason. They think it is just plain embarrassing to be scammed out of their money at an age when they are supposed to be wise and have learned so many life lessons.

2. Fear of being perceived as incompetent: It shouldn’t be this way, but it often is. When an older adult becomes the victim of a crime, well-meaning loved ones might see it as a sign that they should take over finances. Being responsible for managing our life and budget is closely tied to independence. While some seniors might welcome a little help, losing control completely before they are ready can be demoralizing. The fear of losing this part of their independence might be another reason older adults fail to admit they’ve been victimized, even to their own family.

3. Not sure where or how to report fraud: Another problem that keeps seniors from reporting scams is that they frequently fall victim to a crime through a telephone or online scam. Because of it, they aren’t sure who to inform or how to go about doing so. In most cases, seniors should start by calling their local law enforcement. Local authorities can start the investigation or help connect the senior with the appropriate government agency.

Remember, being the victim of a crime is difficult at any age. For some people, just the idea of being forced to recount the scenario over and over for law enforcement doesn’t seem worth the effort.

This can be especially true in situations where a senior has been victimized via the phone or internet and doubt they will be able to recover any of their assets. They might just want to put the incident behind them and move on. While adult children might disagree with this approach, it might be a time to respect a senior loved one’s feelings and move on, too.

Family Resources for Financing Senior Living

If you are trying to help an older adult you love explore their options for financing senior living, Financing Retirement has helpful resources for you to review. From benefits for veterans to long-term care insurance and life care funding, you are sure to learn more about financing senior living.