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Study reveals why elderly are more likely to fall victim to scams

December 24, 2012

Many individuals are well aware of the many scams conducted by phone, mail, email or in-person that try to trick people day-in and day-out. However, seniors are particularly more vulnerable, and one scam can seriously threaten their independent living. According to NPR, there are a couple reasons why the elderly are at a greater risk of scams, and one problems is that seniors do not pick up on suspicious facial features.

A recent study conducted by UCLA researchers found that seniors are not as good as recognizing if a person is untrustworthy based on certain facial cues.

"The older adults rated the trustworthy faces and the neutral faces exactly the same as the younger adults did, but when it got to the cues of untrustworthiness, they didn't process those cues as well," Shelley Taylor, the study leader, told the news source. "They rated those people as much more trustworthy than the younger adults did."

Seniors also have a tough time when it comes to internet-related scams. According to a survey conducted by AARP, the average age of victims of fraud was 69 in 2011.

"Fraud victims tend to be much more likely to do things like open junk mail, listen to unknown callers on the phone who are telemarketing," Doug Shadel, who's with AARP in Washington state and who headed the survey, told the publication. "They're more open to putting themselves in sales situations, and this explains in part why they may be defrauded."

According to, seniors should look out for popular scams such as those that ask for social security numbers, addresses or other personal information.