Senior Scams 2017, How to Recognize, Refuse, and Report Them.
Targeting senior citizens is a cruel and heartless crime. It seems that a day doesn’t go by without reading or learning about a new scam of some sort. While we are all susceptible to scams, aging adults can be quite vulnerable and therefore can become easy targets for criminals to prey on.
According to the FBI, scam artists seek out older Americans for several reasons. First, they are more likely to have concentrated wealth. They are also less likely to report fraud out of fear, and were typically raised to be polite and trusting. Memory impairment may make it difficult for some people to recognize a scam. Women are nearly twice as likely to be victims of financial scams as men, and those who live alone are especially vulnerable to scams.
The National Council on Aging has outlined the top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors as:
- Medicare and Health Insurance Scams
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Funeral and Cemetery Scams
- Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products
- Telemarketing Phone Scams
- Internet Fraud
- Investment Schemes
- Homeowner/Reverse mortgage scams
- Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams
- The Grandparent Scam
These are just some of the many scams out there today. Sadly, criminals are constantly creating new and shrewd ways to scam people out of their hard-earned money.
Refuse to be Scammed
A good rule to follow is that if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is, so don't fall for it! It is always best practice to research all of your options before you invest in anything.
The Better Business Bureau offers 10 Steps to Avoid Scams and Edward Jones Financial shared these tips to help prevent fraud:
- Shred any financial documents and paperwork which may contain personal information.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet, and only share the number if it is absolutely necessary.
- Do not give personal information over the phone or over the internet unless you are certain that the recipient is legitimate.
- Thieves use links in unsolicited emails. Type in the web address you are looking for, rather than clicking on a link. Firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software can help protect your home computer, just make sure these systems are up to date.
- Be alert! Watch for bills that do not arrive as expected, unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, and calls or letters about purchases you didn’t make.
- If you receive an inquiry from a company or government agency and they ask for personal information, do not share that information. Instead, you should hang up and call the number on your account statement or the official website of the company or agency.
- Never give control of your computer to a third party that contacts you.
So, what can you do if you suspect fraud? Reporting fraud is important. Your story could be the missing link that helps investigators understand what scammers are doing so they can stop them.
Specifically, it is recommended that you keep your local police department’s phone number where it can be easily accessed and file a police report immediately if you suspect fraud. Additionally, keep your bank’s phone number handy so you can alert them to any potential fraud which is related to your accounts or credit cards. Review credit reports for any suspicious activity and review all policies and investments to ensure that no changes have been made without your authority. If necessary, seek Power of Attorney or Guardianship of the aging adult in order to protect them. If you suspect fraud has happened, you can also contact Adult Protective Services to report exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
Most adults work hard their entire lives so that they can live comfortably in their retirement years. We must protect this susceptible population from losing their life’s savings, and knowing how to recognize, refuse, and report fraud is a critical first step.
Written By: Susan O’Leary
Kensington Gardens Estate Living Retirement Community
Published on Nov 17, 2017.