Preying on older adults

There’s a whole swath of companies that sell “health products” and quasi-political organizations that spend a lot of money making more money by targeting older adults in the USA.

I know this because my 87-year-old father-in-law gets approximately a pound of mail from these groups every day.

With few exceptions, his junk mail has these characteristics:

  • Most of the text is all caps.
  • The graphic design is poor or nonexistent.
  • The copywriting is done by someone who hasn’t quite finished high school.
  • The political organizations strongly emphasize the urgency of their cause – over and over and over within each piece.
  • The political organizations fan the flames on any fear that may be lurking in the back of the recipients’ minds.
  • The political organizations ask for money.
  • The health products are not scientifically proven.
  • The health products are not approved by the FDA.
  • Most of the health products promise to reverse the effects of aging.

The worst part of this is that many older adults living on their own do not have the discrimination to identify a scam. So they give – or buy.

The best tip I can provide to combat this scourge is that when there’s a post-paid envelope in their mailing, return the part of the mailing with the addressee’s info on it in the post-paid envelope with this message: “TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST.” That way, they will pay double to not get any business. (And they only understand text that’s in all caps.)


3 Replies to “Preying on older adults”

  1. I don’t get the political stuff so much, nor the mail. But I get so many telemarketing calls I just stopped answering the phone unless I recognize the caller. The latest is a recording that says they’ve been trying to reach me about braces for my back pain, and this is my last chance. Of course, it never is – they keep calling with the same recording, but from different numbers so it’s hard to catch and report them. I’ve also gotten the IRS scams, and probably would get others if I answered the phone. It’s really frustrating, knowing that they are preying on vulnerable people. But then, there have been con artists since the Garden of Eden, so it’s not too surprising.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Deb. For some reason, Gmail was overzealous and put the notification of your comment in my spam folder. Randomly, I checked the spam folder this evening – haven’t done so in months!

      I agree – con artists have been around a LONG time.

      Spam phone calls are particularly frustrating. And since they can use a legit number somehow, it’s even worse!

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