Fraud against seniors is so bad the FBI has a division dedicated to it. Seniors make great targets to predators because they often have a lot of money in their banks, excellent credit, and own their own home. Those raised in the 30s, 40s, and 50s were raised to be polite and are much more trusting, unaware of the innovation of scam artists in the 21st century. Furthermore, due to their memories they make poor witnesses or are less likely to even report the crime out of embarrassment or fear their family will deem them unable to manage their finances anymore. It’s okay to have this fear, but there is no need to be embarrassed. People of all ages get scammed in their lives and its only due to your big heart, not an inability to manage your finances. Before reading the following list of the most popular vehicles for these scams, you might be interested in jotting down this helpful information. Having the numbers of your local police department and your bank might be the first places you call when you suspect you’ve been scammed. They can help you investigate the crime and freeze your accounts. Adult Protective Services is a branch of government that can further assist you. To obtain more information, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored phone number at 1-800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov
1. Counterfeit Prescriptions and Anti-aging Products
The middle-aged to senior-aged group are most susceptible to the vast possibilities that medication can offer you a better life and a more youthful appearance, but the truth is any aged person can become victim to counterfeit prescriptions and products. Because of the high cost of prescriptions and anti-aging products, victims might seek a more affordable source to get them and here, they run into trouble. Counterfeits can be filled with unknown toxic materials, or worse, not address your existing condition at all. Be sure you are receiving your prescriptions and products from a verified source.
2. Health Services
It’s common for salesmen to come to the door or call by phone and try to talk a senior into a better health service or insurance. It’s not unheard of for scam artists to even pose as a health provider in a mobile clinic or building! These cons are committed and shouldn’t be underestimated. Double and triple vet any person or “company” offering you health services or insurance.
Telephone Purchases and Donations
Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than any other person. This makes them the easiest target for phone scammers. These cons hardly have to lift a finger and don’t need to leave the comfort of their own home to use these tactics:
- Sweepstakes winner; the caller might tell an elderly person they’ve won a sweepstakes, a vacation or sum of money. This is a big red flag! If the caller is asking for personal information or credit card information you can be sure they are not legitimate. The best way to prevent a crime here is to follow your intuition.
- Your grandchild is in need of help; the caller asks the senior “Grandma, do you know who this is?” and the senior is automatically connected to the caller, trying to guess the identity of their grandchild. They ask for money, usually by Western Union transfer (which doesn’t require an I.D. For the con to receive funds), and tell the senior “Don’t tell my parents! They would kill me!”
- Disaster Relief; After a widely known about disaster occurs, fake non-profits asking for donations by phone rise. Seniors are an easy target
- Mortgage services; mortgage services are an easy in with home owning seniors who are interested in evaluation of their mortgage, property value, or taxes.
Schmimy salesman will offer a senior investment opportunities, much like the con who will present too good to be true health services. Because the elderly want to protect what they’ve earned in savings, 401Ks, and IRAs, they are susceptible to scams that offer to grow and protect their finances. If the suspected scammer is talking to you on the phone, ask them more questions than they ask you. Write down what they tell you their name is, their company name, and contact information. If they can’t offer you a return phone number, it’s likely a scam. Never give your personal information or credit card numbers over the phone unless you’ve called them at a verified number.