COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Alzheimer’s Association is tackling what it said is a growing problem: seniors and those with dementia being taken advantage of through scams.
The association said the pandemic has made an already bad problem even worse.
Now it’s working on making people more aware of what to look out for.
Scammers taking advantage of our most vulnerable. It should never happen, but sadly, it does.
“Seniors age 60 and up represent about 15 percent of the population, but unfortunately, attract more than 30 percent of the reported fraud,” said Danielle Murphy, consumer advocate with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Alzheimer’s Association held a virtual program Monday night about scams targeting seniors and those with dementia.
“Seniors do have more assets,” Murphy said. “Seniors have worked hard putting away for retirement and scammers know that.”
The presentation covered a variety of scams. When it comes to cybercrime, the FBI said seniors were hit harder than any other group in 2020, losing nearly a billion dollars. Phone scams were also discussed.
“The calls happen, people fall prey to this,” said Vince McGrail, executive director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
McGrail said he’s been getting more calls on his phone.
“It’s increased both in terms of texting and phone calls and one of the things I would tell people is if you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer,” McGrail said. “If it’s not a contact in your phone, let them leave a voicemail and you can call back, but don’t answer.”
He said seniors and those with dementia are easier targets for phone scams because they’re more likely to pick up the phone, especially if they’re lonely. He said it’s extremely important for families to be involved to help make sure good decisions are made.
“It’s really frustrating that people would prey on that population,” McGrail said.
The association said there are likely more scams out there that they aren’t hearing about, saying people are sometimes embarrassed to admit or report what happened to them.