Is There a Way to Reduce the Impact of Scams Targeting Seniors?

It's an issue that seems unlikely to go away on its own

Retro phone
Aging can put you at risk for financial scams.
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There’s been a lot written about scams targeting seniors — whether they’re legitimate-sounding organizations or someone trying to take advantage of someone experiencing cognitive decline. The increased loneliness that many people experience as they age doesn’t help — whatever your age may be, someone offering a human connection can be appealing, even if their true motives are very different.

M. T. Connolly is known for her work in addressing issues related to the elderly — and was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant for her work in the area. Now, she’s written a book on the subject, titled The Measure of Our Age: Navigating Care, Safety, Money, and Meaning Later in Life. And in a new article for The Atlantic adapting part of this book, she offers a few policy suggestions for ways to minimize the damage done by financial exploitation — whether it’s conducted by a scammer or by a family member looking for easy money.

Scams targeting seniors and how they play out

Connolly points to a few areas that have allowed financial scams to play out — including the abuse of gift cards and wire transfer fraud. By way of comparison, she discusses reforms to the broker-dealer industry, including “allowing trained employees to temporarily freeze suspicious transactions and, if appropriate, investigate or report them” — and argues that banks would benefit from taking similar steps.

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Connolly notes that there isn’t one simple fix for the problem she’s looking to solve; both fraud protection services and research into the best ways to alleviate loneliness also factor into her recommendations. One gets the sense that if even a fraction of these suggestions were implemented, it could make a big difference for many older Americans’ financial and mental health.

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