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11 Loy. Consumer L. Rev. 4 (1998-1999)
Telemarketing Fraud upon the Elderly Shows No Signs of Slowing

handle is hein.journals/lyclr11 and id is 6 raw text is: CONSUMER

by Mark Allan Baginskis

Telemarketing Fraud Upon the
Elderly Shows No Signs of Slowing

Telemarketing is attractive to those
who partake in a legitimate business
and to those who are willing to
swindle unsuspected consumers out of
billions of dollars a year. The National
Consumer League receives hundreds
of calls daily relating to fraud, and 60%
of those calls involve the elderly.'
Through the use of well-rehearsed and
polished sales pitches, fraudulent
telemarketers prey upon the weaknesses
of the elderly. For example, one elderly
woman lost over $74,000 due to repeated
victimization by a telemarketing firm.2
Embarrassed victims often do not
report the incident to either their
family or to law enforcement officials.
In other cases, victims may not know
where to report such incidents.3
Recent federal legislation has
facilitated the prosecution of
telemarketing in federal courts.
However, state and local authorities
still face many obstacles in attempting
to fight telephone fraud.4 While many
states do have anti-telemarketing
statutes, not all states have consumer
protection statutes that protect the
elderly.' As more states enhance
protection of the elderly, the ability to
discourage fraudulent activity against
the elderly may increase. However,

unless there is uniformity in how
deceptive telephone practices are
punished, the opportunity will always
exists for fraudulent perpetrators to
forum shop for an area that does not
restrict their deceptive practices.
Perpetrators target the elderly for a
variety of reasons. According to one
fraudulent telemarketer, it is because
the elderly are often homebound, and
they are more accessible during the
day than the working class.6 Others
prey upon the elderly's feelings of
loneliness.7 Since many elderly people
live alone, they may be more receptive
to having social contact than younger
individuals. These scenarios are open
invitations to fraudulent operators. For
example, one elderly woman explained
to an interested telemarketer that she
would consider his pitch if it would
provide financial security.9 The
telemarketer then focused on financial
security as one of his selling points.'0
Only later did she learn, via repeated
phone calls and frequent
conversations, that she had been
victimized due to her loneliness.1
As long as the elderly population
continues to grow and the perpetrators
of fraud are successful, there will be a
need to educate potential victims to

4 Loyola Consumer Law Review

Volume 11, number I

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