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Consumer fraud high among elderly

Your parents or grandparents may have been ripped off but they are too embarrassed to tell you. An Allianz Life Insurance Company survey found that 37 percent of seniors have experienced some kind of fraud or financial abuse. That startling number was 20 percent higher than Allianz found in 2014.

These victims lose on an average of $36,000. AARP has found that tech support scams alone result in $1.5 billion from 3.3 million people. Remarkably, 40 percent victims are scammed more than once.

Why is this happening?

•· The population of the elderly is going up so there is more opportunity.

•· They have the money because they've been saving for retirement.

•· An estimated 5.4 million of them have Alzheimer's disease, which compromises their ability to make sound financial decisions.

•· Even without dementia the elderly have a pattern of making imprudent financial decisions called age-associate financial vulnerability.

While it's hard to monitor the behavior of senior citizen all the time. The following scams are quite common:

Robocalls searching for people to answer their phone

In the old days, friends and family called, so answering the phone is a hard habit to break for the elderly. If you don't recognize the number don't answer.

Don't respond to emails asking for personal information

Spotting email scams is not as ingrained in the elderly, so they may want to help out that Nigerian prince who needs to transfer money.

One hopes that there is a special place in hell for people who take advantage of the elderly and infirm. There are also services like EverSafe, which can scan a parent's financial or credit records daily for suspicious activity. The company will then notify both you the caregiver and the parent or grandparent. If you come across a scam, you can report it to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker.

Along with losing their money, the other tragedy in these situations is that the embarrassed victims can become distraught, anxious and depressed. This leads to a downward slide in their health and quality of life; moreover, many seniors can become isolated after the experience.

If you have a loved one who is vulnerable to phone and/or email scams, it is time to take some precautions. This can mean taking away credit cards, changing passwords, or getting view-only access to their accounts. While it will take vigilance on your part, it's much better than the alternative.

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