Elderly citizens, aged 50 and older are afraid of participating in the 2020 Census. In this age group, 66 percent are afraid that they will be the target of fraud.
This finding comes from the new national survey, “The Impostors: Stealing Money, Damaging Lives,” which was released Feb. 19.
As the Census Bureau prepares to mail questionnaires to U.S. households in mid-March, the results of this survey are not encouraging. It indicates that many seniors are naive and trusting and could be vulnerable to fraudsters. The Census Bureau expects scammers will pose as census takers and pry sensitive financial informations from seniors.
Based on the results of the Census Bureau survey, it could easily happen. That’s because the survey featured a quiz about fraud, and 55 percent of respondents failed it. Of the 10 questions asked, 55 percent of respondents failed by answering five or more of questions incorrectly.
Elderly Citizens: Can’t Recognize Scammers
The following types of con artists were the focus of the fraud survey:
- Government impostors, who pretend to be from the Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service or other agency.
- Grandparent-scam impostors, who masquerade as a grandchild with an emergency need for cash after, say, an accident or arrest. In a twist, the con artist poses as a lawyer or law enforcement official involved in the made-up crisis.
- Online dating swindlers, who purport to be romantic interests but who are really after cash or sensitive data.
The results are not encouraging. Indeed, 47 percent of respondents —nearly half of those asked— said they had personally been the target of one of their scams, and 4 percent had been victimized and lost money.
Whether only targeted or actually ripped off, 18 percent said they had suffered health problems, emotional stress or both.
Elderly Citizens: Romance Impostors Are Many
Online dating is popular but a potential minefield. Forty-one percent of all respondents said they had, at some point, looked for a romantic partner on the internet. Younger people were more likely to look for love online, with 51 percent of those under 50 having done so, versus 28 percent of those 50 or older.
Census Scams A Big Worry In 2020
On the census, 70 percent of respondents were not familiar with related scams that could emerge, 69 percent did not know or were unsure if the Census Bureau will send out questionnaires via the U.S. mail (it will), and 35 percent did not know or were unsure whether they will be asked for a Social Security number (they won’t be).
These blind spots could make the elderly, in particular, susceptible to census fraudsters.
Scammers are shrewd and capitalize on current events, so people should be careful not to share sensitive information. And, absolutely do not hand over any money to Census takers. That’s a clear indication that they’re scammers.