Senior citizens are some of the most vulnerable people in our country today, due to scams that are targeted to steal away their hard-earned assets. Many scams attempt to exploit widows who may not have the same financial savvy as younger generations of women. For many seniors, it’s their trusting nature that allows them to become ensnared in a scammer’s trap. When they do fall for these schemes, seniors may end up losing all of their savings and other assets, with no hope of seeing them again.
Despite this growing trend, there are things that we can all do to help protect our elderly population.
Understand the Latest Scams
Having up-to-date knowledge about what scams are popular can help us to protect our elderly loved ones. Here’s a brief run-down of what scammers are up to right now:
- Medicare Fraud – elderly person receives phone call, and even a personal visit from someone informing them that they need a new Medicare card or a supplemental policy, or offering assistance in navigating the new health care laws. Seniors unwittingly provide social security numbers and other personal information.
- Fake Prescription Drugs – seniors are enticed to purchase lower-cost prescription drugs over the internet and get fake, potentially dangerous pills instead.
- Funeral Scams – scammers will often read obituaries and attend the funerals of people in an attempt to gain the trust of a grieving friend or relative. The scammer then tells them that the deceased owed them a debt and tries to get the friend or relative to pay it.
- Phone Scams – unscrupulous people will call senior citizens posing as the IRS or other government entity and demand immediate payment of a bogus debt. Seniors are intimidated until they pay the fees.
- Internet Scams – fake computer security engineers call up seniors to warn them about security threats to their computers and offering them assistance. The criminal gains remote access to the senior’s computer and steals personal and financial information.
- Reverse Mortgage Cons – this is a common scam where seniors are offered the peace of mind of staying in their homes without the burden of paying the mortgage. Often, the scammers charge a fee for their services and the senior citizen ends up losing their home.
- The Grandparent Scam – another recent addition to the scammer’s toolbox, a person calls an elderly individual pretending to be the elderly person’s grandchild. They convince the elderly person that they are in trouble and need them to wire money immediately to help.
Keep In Contact
When you have elderly relatives, it is important to keep in contact with them and stay involved with their lives on a frequent basis. If you can, talk with them about these types of scams and offer to help them determine if a new contact may be a scammer in sheep’s clothing.
Come Up With a Scam Game-Plan
When talking with your elderly relative about possible scams, give them some tools to help them deal with them, such as:
- reminding them that government agencies do not call people asking for money
- imploring them not to give out personal or financial information over the phone
- asking them to review any contracts or bills that are presented to them
- empowering them to hang up the phone or close the door, if they start to feel like something is not quite right
Our elderly loved ones are some of the most precious people in our lives. Help protect them from fraud by staying in contact and helping them avoid losing their assets.