Their methods vary and include phone calls, internet and email solicitations and even face to face visits. Being aware of the many popular scams is a step in protecting yourself.
Remember If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Listed below are a few of the most common scams directed to Seniors. Arm yourself with knowledge and you will be less likely to fall for a scam.
You’re a Winner!
Everyone dreams of winning the lottery or having Publisher’s Clearing House knock on their door. A call or email stating you have won a lottery overseas or a sweepstakes should send up a red flag. As soon as you are asked for a payment to cover the cost of taxes and fees, hang-up the phone. Legitimate sweepstakes organizations will not ask for any form of payment. Taxes on prize winnings are your responsibility not the entity running the lottery or sweepstakes.
Report every scam or fraud attempt to the Aging Services in your area or the National Adult Protective Services Association website: www.napsa-now.org. Avoiding the sweepstakes/lottery scam makes you an automatic winner for keeping your finances safe!
Need a New Roof? Siding? Home Repair?
A very common scam occurs when a scammer visits you and proceeds to inform you of damage to your home. The “representative” may say they are canvassing the neighborhood while offering residents a discount on repairs. They may even point out blemishes or flaws with the hope of convincing you this work should be completed soon before the situation gets any worse. They offer an amazing discount; all you need to do is pay a certain amount of money up front to cover the cost of materials and supplies. They will take care of the rest.
Victims of this scam report no actual work was done, partially completed or poor craftsmanship. Now you have lost money paid in advance and also have the added expense of finding a legitimate company to complete the project.
Anytime you contemplate having work done on your home, it is best to compare offers and reliability. View previous work the contractor has completed and read the reviews. Licensed contractors will have references and are affiliated with legitimate companies. Reliable contractors do not solicit business by going door to door. Ask for a business card and thoroughly inspect the company before signing any contracts or placing a down payment.
“This is the IRS Calling”
The IRS never calls people. They will send notification by mail if there is an issue with your taxes. Uncle Sam does not ask for information over the phone or via email. IRS scammers prey on their victim’s fear of this particular government agency. Callers may be belligerent or threaten horrible consequences if you don’t pay immediately. If you receive a call from the IRS, Medicare or any other government agency without you yourself initiating the call, hang up. If a threat comes via email hit the delete button.
A Great Opportunity to Add to Your Nest Egg!
Investment scams also target Seniors. You will be invited to invest your earnings into a fund or enterprise having phenomenal returns. The scammer states there is little or no risk involved and opportunities to have a big profit are worth any risk encountered. The entire story will sound too good to be true…and it is. Only the scammer will profit from your investment. Consult with a reliable financial professional before making any size of investment.
Hi Grandma, I Need Your Help!
Is your grandchild overseas stuck in jail and in need of bail money? Surprisingly many Seniors believe these callers. Money is wired to a middle person then the Senior learns their grandchild is not in a foreign country or does not need assistance. Find out first from other relatives the whereabouts of your grandchild. Never transfer funds until you have proof your grandchild is calling and needs your help. Chances are it is not what you were led to believe.
Sadly many Seniors are scammed every day. With a little knowledge you could avoid being a victim with a few simple actions:
- Always do your homework – no advance payments for services. First learn the legitimacy of the company.
- Never share personal information over the phone or internet. Avoid quick decisions. Take your time when making a decision involving your finances.
- Place your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry: 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236)
Keep yourself and your finances safe by taking precautions and never be embarrassed to ask for help.