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[Updated in March 2016]
[October 2006]

Consumer troubles involving the elderly

Numerous inquiries and complaints regarding consumer troubles involving the elderly have been received by local consumer centers across Japan.

It is said that the elderly mainly worry about three things: money, health and isolation. Unscrupulous businesses tactfully stir up their anxiety about these three and make them trust the businesses with kind words, having designs on their important assets including pension and savings. The elderly often stay at home, so they are prone to damage from telemarketing and door-to-door sales.

Recently inquiries and complaints related to online sales are increasing, for example, "I signed up with an adult website because I thought it is free of charge, but I was charged", "I was charged for viewing a website which I don't recognize" and so forth.

On the other hand, accidents involving the elderly are often reported, including stumble over steps at the entrance at home, fall from ladder during outwork, accidental ingestion and pulmonary aspiration of foods, domestic injuries like ignition to their clothes and burn injuries in bathroom.

In order to avoid encountering troubles, it is helpful to collect information on main trouble cases among the elderly and on typical sales tactics.

The following shows change in the number of inquiries, top 10 inquiries regarding sales tactics, characteristics of individual sales tactics, and trouble cases common in the elderly.

Number of inquiries: about 200,000 cases in FY2014

The number of inquiries concerning a contract signatory aged 70 or more had continued to increase between FY2007 and FY2013 (more than 210,000 cases in FY2013). In FY2014, it still amounted to nearly 200,000 cases, which accounts for about 20% of the whole inquiries.

Number of inquiries concerning a contract signatory aged 70 or more
(data registered through the end of May 2015)
FY2005  139,685
FY2006  135,014
FY2007  109,166
FY2008  115,521
FY2009  122,432
FY2010  138,726
FY2011  148,775
FY2012  162,730
FY2013  210,075
FY2014  195,480

Top 10 sales tactics

The following shows top ten sales tactics associated with inquiries concerning a contract signatory aged 70 or more. (Each value in brackets shows a percentage to the total inquiries concerning a contract signatory aged 70 or more (195,480 cases).) (data registered through the end of May 2015)

  1. Telemarketing sales: 35,951 (18.4%)
  2. Door-to-door sales: 25,877 (13.2%)
  3. Online sales: 13,259 (6.8%)
  4. Theatrical sales scheme: 12,420 (6.4%)
  5. Identity theft: 11,512 (5.9%)
  6. Investment scam: 7,890 (4.0%)
  7. Free-offer scheme: 5,115 (2.6%)
  8. One-click charge fraud: 4,880 (2.5%)
  9. Repeated sales: 4,458 (2.3%)
  10. Secondary damages: 4,217 (2.2%)
    (A consumer who already suffered damage is targeted and victimized again.)
  1. 1 If one inquiry is related to two or more sales tactics, these sales tactics are individually counted.
  2. 2 The above data of "telemarketing sales", "door-to-door sales" and "online sales" correspond to inquiries having a problem with sales method.


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