No. 1229



There is a scourge that is attacking our land today and it needs to stop, or at least be reduced to a minimum. This is the scourge of fraud, people being victimized by others, and it is particularly hard on the elderly, who in many ways are the most vulnerable of all our citizens. This is because the elderly among us, including yours truly, come from a generation when the vast majority of our citizens were people who had integrity and good morals, and telling the truth was a virtue that was practiced on a daily basis. Sadly, somewhere along the way we have lost a good deal of what we once had, and we need to get it back. But how?
From my perspective, we need to restructure the curriculums in our schools to focus on what is most important, and that is character education. The child who has good character will be far more successful in life, in most cases, than the brilliant academic student who has poor character. It is great for a student to get a good academic education, but the focus needs to be on character, as this is where our society is hurting most these days. What I am saying does not give the homes of America a pass because this is where, as a nation, we are hurting the most. You may have heard it here first: character education must be a top priority in our nation’s schools.
While my own mother was victimized before she passed away, I have been very fortunate to not have this happen to me. There are a couple of simple rules that have been most helpful in this regard. First, I understand that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And the most important thing is, and I highly recommend it for your consideration: I don’t gamble, go to the horse races, play the lottery, or enter any kind of contest where you have to win something or get something for nothing. I have always been willing to just earn what I wanted in this life. It is not whether we win or lose that’s important, it is the mindset that opens us up to becoming a victim of fraud.
As a result of this thinking I did a little research and found that “senior fraud” is much more pervasive than I ever thought possible. There is a company based in Great Britain, but heavily involved in America, called Comparitech that has released the following statistics. One in 10 elderly people in the US were victims of elder fraud in the last year. More than 5 million incidents of elder fraud occur every year in total. The average loss per case reported to Adult Protective Services is $2,415. In total, losses due to elder fraud total $27.4 billion each year. A total of 38 percent of fraud cases target the elderly. Debit cards were the most common product involved with elder fraud cases (32.9 percent) followed by credit cards (11.6 percent) and bank deposit accounts (10 percent).
There is much, much more, and if you have a little time and can get online, go to their website and check it out. This might pay you handsomely for your time at some point down the road. As one who has always been one who tries to be ethical and honest in all my financial dealings, it is a sad state of affairs that we have people around who will take unfair advantage of others, especially the elderly. I have a simple message for people like this, “Shame on You.” Didn’t your mother teach you anything?
And then this message for seniors from someone who does care: We have to wise up and realize that there will always be scammers and crooks in our midst and we just have to be on guard to not let them take advantage of us. But just keep helping people who need help and do not let crooks steal your joy.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)