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AARP Report Finds NYC Rife With Senior Scams

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Assoc. Details Fraudsters' Tactics Targeting 50+ Populations – Scams Vary by Borough & Age, Many Going Unreported

NEW YORK, Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Business looks to have never been better for Big Apple scam artists, according to a new AARP report, and seniors in the city are all too often the target. The Association finds a high number of older New Yorkers have experienced scams, with an alarming one-third not reporting them. The AARP report details fraudsters' tactics, finding they vary by age and even by borough.

"Scam artists and fraudsters in New York City looking for their next victims have their craft honed down to a science," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.

Nearly one-third, 29 percent, of 50+ residents in New York City say they or someone they know have been the target of fraud or scam. Broken down by age, 32 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds say they or someone they know have been a target or victim, five percent higher than those 65 and older. However, the older set has a much higher rate of letting the scam go unreported, with 37 percent not reporting them, compared to 26 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds.

"Younger people are more likely to see an older relative or friend be targeted or become a victim of a scam in New York City and report it, but older individuals are often worried about speaking up. Sometimes, they're embarrassed," added Finkel.

In Queens, credit card scams prevail, while in the Bronx and Brooklyn I.D. theft is the fraudsters' scam of choice. Manhattan scam artists often use frauds around check cashing or payday loans and investment or securities. On Staten Island, however, scammers take their fraud tactics online.

NYC scams by-the-borough (full AARP report can be found online here: http://bit.ly/1bbXWHI)

  • 33 percent of Queens' residents 50+ say they or someone they know have been targeted by a credit card scam – the highest number of out of all five boroughs.
  • 22 percent of the Bronx and Brooklyn's 50+ say they encountered ID theft scams – highest for all boroughs. Manhattan was next with 17 percent.
  • Staten Island was highest for internet/online scams at 24 percent
  • Manhattan's 50+ saw higher numbers for investment security related scams and check cashing or payday loan frauds.
  • Right around one-third of 50+ across all boroughs said they had encountered a scam, with Manhattan being the highest at 31 percent. Roughly the same amount did not report the scam, with the highest number of Staten Islanders, 36 percent, letting the scams go unreported.

NYC scams age-breakdown (full AARP report can be found here: http://bit.ly/187NTCy)

  • 32 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds in New York City say they or someone they know was targeted by a scam (with eight percent saying both themselves and someone they know), compared to 27 percent of 65+.
  • But 37 percent of 65+ didn't report the scam or fraud - 11 percent higher than 50- to 64-year-olds.
  • 65+ were targeted more for credit card scams at 23 percent, vs. 21 percent for 50- to 64-year-olds.
  • 21 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds say they or someone they know encountered ID theft, as opposed to 17 percent of 65+
  • 1 in 10 of 50- to 64-year-olds encountered a check cashing scam.
  • Sweepstakes scams tend to be more targeted towards older adults, with 7 percent of 65+ coming across them vs. 4 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds.

As scammers in New York City tend to target older individuals, AARP has the following tips for how to talk to parents and older relatives or friends about protecting themselves from becoming the next victim:

  1. Don't just tell your parent to hang up or throw out the letter. Have a talk about why. You can't win a contest you didn't enter, Dad. You never have to pay fees to collect lottery winnings, Mom. Government agencies don't make unsolicited phone calls and never ask for personal information — why would they? They've already got it on file.
  2. Don't shame or blame. Remind them what they taught you decades ago: Don't trust strangers — especially those seeking personal information and money.
  3. Try some reverse psychology. If you become aware that an aged parent is playing a sweepstakes or making a "double your money" investment, ask how you can do the same. Psychologists say this tactic sometimes prompts a warning — your parent doesn't want you to lose money, too. That's your cue to ask, "Then why do you do it?" This could start a conversation that helps the parent come to terms with the scam.
  4. Turn patsies into protectors. Talk with your victimized parents about how their experience could be important for other people facing the same situation: "The authorities are looking for these guys, so maybe you can help others." This may make them willing to share the details of what happened.

AARP also advises people to keep alert for warning signs of an elder relative falling victim to a scam: If you don't live nearby, ask a trusted neighbor to be your eyes and ears. What kind of mail is coming into the house? Is there a pattern of scam callers on the phone? These could suggest that your folks are on "sucker lists," developed and sold among scammers to identify past victims as candidates for future fraud.  More tips to avoid scams can be found at http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/.

Follow us on Twitter: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Espanol, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

SOURCE AARP New York



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