Consumer problems involving senior citizens increasing sharply since 2007

JIJI

Consultations provided to older people concerning consumer affairs increased sharply during the five years through fiscal 2012, according to the government’s first-ever white paper on consumer issues.

Consultations for seniors increased 34.7 percent to 207,513 cases in fiscal 2012, compared with 2007, while the overall figure declined by 20.4 percent to 836,662 cases, the report released Friday says.

Consumers aged 65 years or older who fell prey to “secondary” payment scams increased noticeably and accounted for 56.3 percent of all victims in fiscal 2012.

In fraudulent schemes targeting consumers over goods they purchased, victims were cajoled into making additional payments to people who pretended to be able to solve any problems. In fiscal 2003, the proportion of victimized elderly was as low as 4.9 percent, according to the report.

Among other sources of concern involving elderly consumers, telemarketing sales stood out. Complaints about such sales practices made up 19.5 percent of the total in 2012, up sharply from the 6.2 percent recorded in 2005.

In addition, elderly consumers rushed to seek advice on how to deal with deliveries of health foods that had been sent to them even though they refused to buy the product.

The number of such consultations totaled about 11,000 in fiscal 2012, soaring from some 2,000 in the previous year.

Meanwhile, consultations about problems with online games topped 5,000, up from about 3,500, with many of them involving consumers less than 20 years old.

The average amount they paid for the games came to about ¥128,000, more than double the ¥58,000 in fiscal 2011, the report says.