Have a conversation not a lecture
Have a conversation not a lecture

How to have a conversation (not a lecture) about fraud with older adults

From cleveland.com Published: Feb. 05, 2023, 12:30 p.m. https://www.cleveland.com/news/2023/02/how-to-have-a-conversation-not-a-lecture-about-fraud-with-older-adults.html

People over 60 reported more than $1.7 billion lost to fraud and scams in 2021, according to the FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report. These older adults reported both the most incidents and the highest losses of any group in the report.

By NerdWallet

People over 60 reported more than $1.7 billion lost to fraud and scams in 2021, according to the FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report. These older adults reported both the most incidents and the highest losses of any group in the report.

But that doesn’t mean you need to single out your grandparents for a phishing lesson at the next family gathering. Research shows that older adults can have additional risk factors, but everybody gets targeted by scams, and everybody gets better at avoiding scams when they’re well-informed about them.

Family members and caregivers all probably have stories to tell about their own experiences with attempted scams. That’s why Taylor Patskanick of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab recommends a “multi-generational conversation” on the subject.

Open conversations about fraud and financial exploitation could help older adults avoid scams — but the younger participants could probably use a reminder, too.

Here’s what you should know to help make that conversation helpful to everyone involved.

Addressing risk factors for fraud

A growing body of research shows that there are several factors common among older adults that are correlated with increased susceptibility to scams. Here are a few examples:

  • Cognitive decline.
  • Social isolation.
  • Lack of knowledge about how to avoid scams.

The lack of knowledge was also a concern for a panel of adults age 85 and older discussing fraud and financial exploitation at the MIT AgeLab.

“We heard them talk a lot about really lacking information — very specific information about a type of scam that was circulating,” says Patskanick.

Advance warning about scams can help older adults successfully avoid future scam attempts, according to a study published in 2014 in Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

But it’s not just older adults who can benefit.

Even spending just three minutes watching a video about investing fraud techniques reduced susceptibility to financial fraud in adult participants of all ages, according to a 2021 study published by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority — or FINRA — a nongovernmental organization that regulates the U.S. securities industry. And repeated exposure to the information helped the effect last longer.

Spending just a few minutes chatting about fraud and scams at a family gathering could help everybody avoid them in the future.

Resources to guide conversations

Here are some additional anti-fraud resources for older adults with specific details on current scams and what to do about them:

  • The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, has an anti-fraud campaign aimed at older adults called “Pass It On.” The campaign offers simple instructions in English and Spanish for how to identify and avoid many common types of fraud.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has resources for older adults, caregivers and financial institutions. Subjects include choosing a trusted person to help protect money; planning for diminished capacity; preventing elder financial abuse; and identifying and reporting suspicious activities.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative has resources on abuse and financial exploitation of older adults and guidance for how to report issues to the appropriate authorities.

This article was written with the support of a journalism fellowship from the Gerontological Society of America, the Journalists Network on Generations and the Silver Century Foundation.

More From NerdWallet

Alex Rosenberg writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @AlexPRosenberg.

The article Have a Conversation (Not a Lecture) About Fraud With Older Adults originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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