Studies by the American Association of Retired Persons show that most elderly fraud victims don't make the connection between illegal telemarketing and criminal activity. They don't associate the voice on the phone with someone who could be trying to steal their money.
Most believe that the caller is a nice young man or woman simply trying to make a living, such as a student working his or her way through college, or an ambitious person trying to set a good sales record at the company. Victims think a fraudulent telemarketer's actions are not crimes, simply hard sells. They may realize that they haven't gotten their money's worth, but they are reluctant to admit that they have been cheated or robbed by illegal telemarketers.
THE FIRST STEP in helping older people who may be targets of fraud is to convince them that the person on the other end of the line could be a crook!
Once they understand that illegal telemarketing is a serious crime -- punishable by heavy fines and long prison sentences -- they are more likely to hang up and report calls to the authorities.
Older people may be surprised to know that there are an estimated 14,000 illegal telemarketing operations bilking thousands of victims every day. They rob with phones instead of guns. And they don't care about the pain they cause when they steal an elderly person's life savings. If they are caught, they can be put in jail - where they belong.
It's hard to hang up on people -- especially when the caller sounds so polite and friendly. But people wouldn't let strangers into their homes or accept rides from someone they didn't know. So, they should handle telephone calls from strangers the same way.
Elderly Targets of Fraud
Need to Know That
AND THEY NEED TO KNOW they can protect themselves from being targets of fraud by:
If an older person is:
then, he or she may be a target of fraud.
The center can also advise friends and relatives of older people who are concerned that they might be actual or potential victims of fraud. We have free materials about the different types of telemarketing fraud. And it's easy to reach us at our toll-free number:
We'll take the information and provide it to law enforcement officials who need it. We also provide advice and make referrals to the appropriate agencies.
WHO IS INVOLVED
NCL's National Fraud Information Center, and other organizations like the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, and Operation Phonebusters in Canada, are working together to solve the problem of elderly fraud victimization. They welcome advice, suggestions, or information about effective strategies for combatting telemarketing fraud.
The National Consumers League , founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. NCL's three-pronged approach of research, education and advocacy has made it an effective representative and source of information for consumers and workers. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to representing consumers on issues of concern including health care, food and rug safety, fair labor standards, telecommunications, financial services, and fraud. NCL runs the National Fraud Information Center, which was created in 1992. NCL staff answers the NFIC 800 hotline, which consumers from across the United States can call to receive advice and tips on how to spot possible fraud and to report it.
For more information, or to become a member, write or call the National Consumers League at 1701 K Street, N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20006, (202) 835-3323. To reach NCL's National Fraud Information Center, call (800) 876-7060.
The National Consumers League's elder fraud project is underwritten by a grant from the American Express Company.
Individual copies of NCL's consumer education brochure, "They Can't Hang Up," are available for free by calling 1-800-876-7060. Bulk copies can be shipped for a small fee by contacting the address or phone number below.
NCL also offers a 20-minute video with personal stories told by fraud victims and helpful advice for seniors and their families. NCL has produced a 28-page report outlining the problem of telemarketing fraud against older people and strategies for empowering them to fight back. These are available for a small fee. Contact NCL for prices.
To order, or for more information, call or write: