It is no surprise Seniors have become the prime targets for elder scams. They are often left feeling helpless, confused, and embarrassed after being tricked by total strangers. It is important to recognize the most common types of elderly scams and learn how you and your loved ones may avoid becoming victims of scam artists.
- Medicare and Prescription Drugs – Seniors typically trust information from a government source. Scam artists will pose as Medicare representatives when calling and ask for a Medicare identification number as well as a credit card number. This information is used for bogus shipping fees, refunds or the caller may promise they will conduct the financial transaction for you. Fraudsters have been known to advertise counterfeit drugs at cheaper prices. Seniors who are trying to find more affordable medication will buy these so-called prescriptions and soon discover they are fake.
- Funerals – People are most vulnerable when suffering the loss of a loved one. Scam artists search obituaries for information, call the surviving family members and claim the deceased has a debt to pay. The Senior is told payment is urgent or they may lose their home and other holdings. Unethical funeral directors offer unnecessary funeral extras, such as an upgrade on a casket, and grieving families accept without questioning the purpose or existence of an added expenditure.
- Phone Scams – Phone scams are the most common fraud. Callers present themselves in a courteous and respectful manner while showing interest in the victim’s well-being. The Senior subsequently begins to feel comfortable and trust the caller. Scammers could request donations to a favorite charity or offer a subscription at a reduced rate. All they need is a credit card number. The “grandparent scam” is a popular phone approach where the caller pretends to be a grandchild in trouble needing money wired to them but not wanting to alarm their parents.
- Investments – Investment scams occur when imposters pose as certified financial retirement consultants by using fake or false but reputable company names and titles. A phony investment is offered to improve one’s retirement savings. These proposals range from pyramid schemes to fictitious partners in a new investment. An account number and/or pin is requested and then used to drain accounts.
- Internet Scams– Although the internet is a hub of helpful knowledge and information, it is also the perfect opportunity to be swindled. Seniors hear complicated technological information and are coaxed to download malware with false promises of promotions and winnings or asked for a verification of their credit card account. Most worrisome is how the information given the caller allows a stranger to take control of their computer and all the data it holds. Some scammers will walk the Senior through the computer settings step by step.
- Family Members/ Friends – Unfortunately, Senior scams often originate from family members or friends. It is important to be vigilant, informed, and somewhat skeptical. As difficult as it is to deny family members, it is important to seek alternate guidance from another trusted family member or an outside advisor. Scams from family and/or friends range from financial to physical and mental abuse.
Bridge to Better Living feels it is essential to learn how to avoid Senior scams and their resulting heartache with these tips.
- Stay involved, stay educated – Stay informed about scams. Find resources online to be knowledgeable and technologically aware.
- Shred all sensitive information- It is best to shred all credit card data. Be sure mail does not sit in mailboxes or email accounts for too long. Have benefit checks directly deposited instead of mailed. Never give financial or personal information over the phone. If in doubt, call the bank or government office to confirm the call originated from them.
- Sign up for the do not call list– Doing so helps reduce the number of robo calls received and removes your number from telemarketers’ lists. Be wary of callers who do not have a good command of the English language. Unwanted calls may be blocked on cell phones or go to https://telemarketing.donotcall.govto access the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Question unsolicited offers– Do not fall for “click to win” scams. Verify and research whether an offer is legitimate. Take time to shop around, and never allow yourself to be pressured by fraudsters who push “the deal.”
- NEVER EVER give out your personal information. Medicare, IRS and Social Security do NOT call you… YOU call them. Take the caller’s information and tell them you will return their call after consulting with an expert. When and if they are called back chances are the number provided by the scam artist is not in service.
Be vigilant for yourself, your Senior and your loved ones. Have a healthy amount of skepticism and double-check the legitimacy of requests. Bridge to Better Living offers the best assistance and guidance for Seniors in transition. Contact us today for honest and transparent answers to questions and concerns. Bridge to Better Living is the reliable answer to finding Quality of Life.