Hard Wired for Scams: How scammers hook seniors
Linda Liebe never thought she would fall for a scam. But when a man called the 74-year-old in June, telling her the government was re-issuing Medicare cards, she gave-out her bank account information when he asked.
"With senior citizens, you mention their social security or their Medicare card and immediately everything else flies out the window because senior citizens on a fixed income, that's their life line," Linda said.
Erik Asp says there may be a biological reason why Linda fell for the scam. He's a researcher at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His theory... as we get older, so does the pre-frontal cortex. That part of our brain is responsible for doubt. Losing the ability to doubt, might make us more likely to fall for a scam.
"We know a lot of our prefrontal patients don't have access to their checkbook anymore, because of these problems. Any type of snake oil salesman that comes along, they're very impulsive buyers and things like that," Asp said.
"Seniors are definitely prayed upon as opposed to other demographics," Denise Groene from the Better Business Bureau said.
Groene says more than a third of identity theft schemes use government documents or benefits fraud to hook potential victims.
"Any senior who is getting these calls, that's alarming. No one wants to lose their benefits," Groene said.
Groene says Linda was the victim of one of the most common scams.
"But right now, with the Affordable Care Act, there's a lot of Medicare fraud type phone calls going around," Groene said.
Groene says do your research on a company and call the B-B-B.
"It's better to be a little overly cautious and protective of your information than to divulge it and have to work backwards and try to clean up everything," Groene said.