David Earl Johnson, LICSW

2 minute read

Good advice for an aging population: [APA Says Older Adults: Beware Memory Scams; Get It in Writing First][1]

Especially if you’re older, get everything in writing, from estimates to receipts. Psychologists at Washington University report that the memory function of people in their mid-60s and up is easily swayed by the power of suggestion, making them more vulnerable to memory-related scams. A full report appears in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology (JEP): General, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

For example, an unscrupulous contractor can tell an older customer, “I told you it would cost [a much higher price than was originally quoted] and you agreed to pay!” Without a written estimate, the customer is likely to “remember” it that way, too, and be overcharged. Another scam, “you forgot to pay me,” also underscores the need for written receipts. Some con artists even run their own rudimentary memory tests on the elderly, checking to see if their memory is bad enough to make them good victims. The article emphasizes that there is great variation between older adults in their ability to be scammed in this way, however, here is one more reason to do business in what has always been the best method. Get it in writing first!

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