Financial Scams that Target Seniors
Beware of Scammers
Scammers are targeting the elderly, either because they believe that most seniors are wealthy, and/or because many seniors have aging problems, especially those with some memory loss, that make them more vulnerable. Also, many seniors live in isolation which makes them even easier targets. Please protect your loved ones by warning them about these scams. If you or your loved ones have been attacked by a scammer you can contact the Adult Protective Services. To find the branch in your area phone the Elder Care Locator: 1-800-677-1116 , or visit their website at: www.eldercare.gov.
However, not all attacks on seniors are by strangers. According to the National Council on Aging 90% of elder abuse is by a senior’s own family members.
The Grandparent Scam
This is really disgusting because these scammers play on the hearts and mercy of unsuspecting seniors. Someone phones a senior and says,
“Hi grandma guess who this is?”
The grandma then will start to name the grandchild that sounds most like the phoner and then the phoner will say that’s right grandma! The scammer now has succeeded with getting a new identity – talk about identity theft. The scammer now pleads with grandma to send them some money by Western Union for some fake problem and also begs grandma not to tell mom and dad that he/she bothered her or mom and dad will get angry!
If you work with seniors or are one and are a loving grandma or grandpa then watch out for this scam. If someone phones and asks you to guess who it is, then do not give in. If this is a real grandchild they will tell eventually tell you who they are!
Medicare and Insurance Scams
Someone pretends to be a Medicare representative to gain personal information from an unsuspecting senior. They may even invite the senior to a fake clinic and then charge Medicare to pay them by using all the personal information they have on the senior like their social security number, medicare number, etc. to get money out of Medicare. They may also try to sell something to the senior and also bill Medicare.
Do not show or share your Medicare card with anyone.
Ransomware can lock you out of your computer until you pay them a lot of money, usually in bitcoins. Some seniors have put their entire life in their computer; family photos, banking information, passports, etc. Make sure you have a backup disc in case you get locked out. Look for anti-virus programs that give protection against ransomware.
Be wary of emails or phone calls that inform you that you won the lottery and they need your bank account information so that they can deposit your winnings in your bank account. Since many seniors are living on or below the poverty line, they may fall for this just because they are very desperate to get financial help.
Sometimes the scammers will send a bad check to the senior’s bank account and then ask for all kinds of fees, for their services, etc. By the time the check has bounced the senior will have paid them fees.
Internet and email Scams
You get an email from someone you really know (only he or she did not send it, but someone hijacked their address book) saying they are stranded some place and someone robbed them of their money and passport and they cannot fly home.
This is one of the most common scams. Usually after some kind of natural disaster scammers will say they are collecting funds for the victims.
Fake Anti-aging Products
Oh, how we all want to be young again and along comes someone claiming to have found the tree to eternal life, so to speak. Be wary of buying fake things that they claim will restore your youth. Not only will you waste your money, but they might be selling you things that are harmful to your health.
Funeral and Cemetery Scams
Scammers will read funeral details on the Internet or in some local paper and will show up at the funeral. They will approach the widow or widower or children and claim that the deceased took a loan from them, but unfortunately died before he/she could pay it back.
Also, some funeral homes charge people unnecessary expenses like making them pay for a nice casket for someone who is going to be cremated.
A scammer will phone or email a senior telling them that they have a tax rebate coming from the IRS but need their bank account, social security number and other personal information in order to deposit it.
Be wary of any emails or a phoner who needs to have your latest personal information to update their records.
Again, seniors who are financially strapped may fall for this.
Seniors often find it difficult to go out to shop for items because of health problems, so they all love to buy online.
Be wary of people who phone you who want to sell you things and need your credit card or bank account number.
Do not buy anything over the phone with your credit card unless you made the phone call. Be wary of posting your credit card information on any web-site for purchases. Make sure it is a secure site.
There have been terrible financial losses to seniors who fell for binaries that offered them a chance to get rich quick, but first they needed their money so they could invest it for them. There have been cases where they have swindled seniors out of all their money and not one penny came back as part of a financial gain. They will often say there was a financial collapse or problem with the stock market that they had no control over.
Also, watch out for pyramid schemes and those who claim they want to safeguard your money for you.
Homeowner and Reverse Mortgage Scams
Scammers send out fake letters that appear to be from local counties claiming they need property taxes to be paid or they want to reassess the senior’s home in order to help them get a tax reduction.
Also fake repair companies will also try to con seniors out of money.
Since seniors are so much under attacks by scammers do everything you can to protect your loved ones especially seniors who live alone.