Senior Fraud | Scammer's Favorite DemographicFraud perpetrated through telemarketing is a growing trend. One of the best ways to keep from becoming a victim yourself is to have the facts needed to help you identify when a scam is being played. In 2005 alone, over $4.9 million was lost by reporting victims targeted in this type of crime which was an increase from the $2.4 million lost during 2004. This growing trend is targeting individuals of all ages, from all economic income brackets, and with various levels of education.
Unfortunately, the elderly fall victim to this type of crime 48% more often than any other age group. 31% are part of scams that utilize prizes and sweepstakes design specifically to lure vulnerable groups. Even if informed they have won, victims are often required to send a fee in order to claim the prize which, of course, never materializes.
There are various methods used in order to contact targets originally. 59% of the time it will be through telemarketing efforts, 29% through the mail, 9% through other print sources, and 3% in other ways. Although it would be expected that credit card payments would be the primary source of payment, in fact they only make up 11% of requests. Primarily wire transfers make up 34% of how money is disbursed which includes such as fake check scams, lotteries and lottery clubs, advance fee loans, and prizes and sweepstakes.
A close second is bank debits that are used 22% of the time. These were used in scams involving phishing, scholarships and grants, magazine sales, and even credit card offers. However, much depends on the age of the target population. For example, for those under 30 the top types of scams included scholarships and grants, travel and vacations, advance fee loans, credit card offers, and work-at-home programs.
Many reliable companies rely on telemarketing in order to make their product or service known. However, con artists use the same technique to rob people on a daily basis. One of the most important things to find out while on the phone is exactly who you're dealing with. It's okay to tell them you're going to check with the Better Business Bureau and local consumer agencies first. These organizations are willing to explain the danger signs of fraud and the company calling initially will be more than happy to call back once you've been able to do some research.
Knowing the rules of telemarketing will help make individuals aware of fraudulent practices. For example, telemarketers are not allowed to ask for fees upfront. Additionally, it's illegal to ask for money in order to enter your name in a contest or to tell you that your odds can be increased by paying a fee. It's also illegal to buy or sell lottery tickets that are held in other countries.
Other signs that this type of contact may be fraudulent are if there is pressure to act immediately, if they refuse to send written information, or if they use scare tactics. Additionally, any time demands are made for money through wire transfers or advance payments are reqested in order to cover things like taxes or customs fees should be suspect. Due to the increasing trend in identity theft, one of the biggest red flags is the request for personal information including account numbers, social security numbers, birth date, and the like. With this information it's easy to become you.
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to be aware that, although there are many legitimate companies that use telemarketing for legal purposes, there are more than ever that run scams to dup people out of their life savings. Once added to the "do not call list," filing a complaint immediately upon receipt of a telemarketing call that seems suspect will allow authorities to shut them down before others become victims.