July 24, 2014

Training the trusting generation: Scams on the elderly and how to prevent them

Print
Scammers sometimes prey on the elderly by impersonating relatives and asking for money over the phone.

Les Chatfield/Flickr Creative Commons

Scammers sometimes prey on the elderly by impersonating relatives and asking for money over the phone.

By Bailey Bryant, Sony Kassam, Shannon Kelly and Johnathan Hettinger/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, the size of the elderly population is getting larger. Unfortunately, so is the number of elderly citizens who fall victim to scams targeting their age group.

Scammers often target the elderly because of their trusting nature. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, as of 2012, Baby Boomers were the most trusting age group in America. This was decided based on their answer to the question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” Forty percent of Baby Boomers expressed beliefs of the former, while the same was only true for 19 percent of Millennials.

Scams come in many forms but usually occur via technology like the internet and telephone. This was the case for University of Illinois alumnus Dylan Rossi’s grandfather, who was scammed out of money over the telephone last November.

“They come from a generation that was more trusting of people,” said Erin Rossi, daughter of victim. “These crooks prey on that.”

While his situation is tragic, it is not unique. In attempts to raise awareness about such scams, members of the Rossi family agreed to share their story.

Though notifying the elderly about these scams is undoubtably important, additional preventative measures can also be taken, such as consulting family members and educating yourself.

This story was produced by University of Illinois students in Assistant Professor of Journalism Janice Collins’ multimedia class. It is part of Elderly Watch, a project of CU-CitizenAccess.org that focuses on elderly issues in east central Illinois. The project is funded by the Marajen Stevick Foundation.

Listen to the radio story