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Older Americans are often the victims of fraud, whether through fake sweepstakes offers, phony investments or Social Security fraud. Scammers may target older people because they are perceived to be more trusting, or because they are more likely to be available for telephone calls during the day. Alzheimer’s patients are particularly vulnerable, as they may become confused easily. Boredom and loneliness also play a large role in increasing seniors’ vulnerability.

There is no easy antidote to fraud, but if one has elderly parents, it is important to make sure that they are aware of the danger and know the warning signs of common scams. Shaming and blaming seniors is not constructive or effective, while providing practical information can make a real difference. And, now there is one more tool available: a federal fraud hotline.

The hotline was established by the Senate Special Committee on Aging and is available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time at 1-855-303-9470. Investigators will take information from callers reporting fraud and funnel those complaints to the proper state and federal authorities.

Investigators can also be contacted through the website of the committee, located at www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.