Fraud.org (a division of the National Consumer League) recently released a 2013 report which shows that phone scams had increased by 25% over the last year. Moreover, the National Consumers League reports that nearly 1/3 of phone fraud victims are over the age of 60.
Highlights from the report available on Fraud.org include:
"New trend: Fraudulent telemarketers a top concern
For years, the most frequent way that consumers reported coming into contact with scammers was via websites or email. In 2013, however, the most frequent way that scammers approached consumers was over the telephone. More than 36% of complaints to Fraud.org indicated that the phone was the initial method of contact, up from just over a quarter of complaints in 2012.
Fraud on the rise: Refund and recovery scams
Losing money to a scammer is bad enough. Unfortunately, consumers who fall victim to con artists often find their way on to lead lists that scammers buy, sell and trade amongst themselves. Scammers using the "refund and recovery" fraud will pitch victims through phone calls and direct mail claiming that can recover their lost money. The catch is that the victims need to pay a fee to "recover" the losses. In fact, the pitch is just another scam designed to get even more money from victims. In 2013, this scam was the fastest-growing type of non-Internet scam reported to NCL's Fraud.org campaign.
Top scams continue to thrive: Fake Check Fraud, Bogus Internet Merchandise and Sweepstakes Scams
Nearly three quarters of all complaints to Fraud.org in 2013 fell into just three categories - Fake Check Scams (24.23%), Internet Merchandise Scams (23.04%) and Fake Prizes/Sweepstakes (22.76%). Fake check scams remained the top complaint in 2013, but scammers appear to be increasingly relying on bogus Internet merchandise and bogus sweepstakes (such as the infamous Jamaican lottery scam) to defraud consumers."
There are plenty of people who make a living at the expense of others, and you definitely don't want to become a victim. If you would prefer to be removed from all phone sales lists, you can request to be put on the "Do Not Call" list, by registering at www.donotcall.gov. Additionally, the National Consumers League offers this tip sheet which provides excellent information on ways elders can avoid becoming a victim.