PORTLAND -- Older Americans are getting fleeced at an alarming rate as scams grow more sophisticated, and are harder than ever to spot.
Volunteers and employees at Elders in Action, a Portland non-profit, said their hotline is busy. Many calls are from seniors who are being victimized like a grandmother being ripped off by a grandchild who had apparently gained control of her cable television pin number.
"Your cable bill is normally 60 bucks and jumps to several hundred dollars," said Elders in Action Executive Director Leslie Foren.
Stealing utilities has become a common crime against older Americans and the perpetrators are almost always other family members.
That family trust is something even con artists are now using in their own schemes like the "Hey Grandma Scam".
That's when con artists call seniors posing as one of their grandchildren. They claim to be in desperate need of money.
An Oregon City couple recently lost $10,000 believing the money would help their grandson get out of a foreign jail. It's one of many scams targeting seniors that use the old fashioned phone lines.
"Older adults are actually home during the day and actually answer their telephone. Where as younger folks let it go to voice mail or don't use the phone because they text and email," said Foren.
With computer savvy baby boomers starting to retire, email scams have exploded. Most are after your personal information by tricking you into believing you're dealing with a legitimate company like your bank.
While the scams keep growing more sophisticated, consumer awareness is also growing. Elders in Action now routinely meet with Department of Justice investigators and law enforcement to pool resources and spot the latest scams.
For a link to Elders in Action click here: eldersinaction.com