Seniors are at high risk of falling victim to financial scams and scandals, and are widely targeted. It’s important that your elderly family member is aware of the different scams out there so they can protect themselves and take pre-emptive action to block any potential fraud. Sit down with your loved one and go over the common senior scams they may encounter listed below.
Telemarketing, Internet and Email Scams
Most con artists use the telephone as the number one way to deceive seniors and lure them into a scam. Your family member must always be wary of phone calls from strangers asking for or advertising anything, and to never give out any personal information. Common telephone scams include: pretending to be from the senior’s credit card company, offering discount prescriptions and asking for a membership fee and credit card number, as well as Social Security scams requesting bank account information to supposedly deposit money, etc. If your senior gets any calls such as these requesting personal information, they must hang up and call the institution being targeted. For example, if they get a Social Security scam call they should call the Social Security Administration and block all attempted account changes except when in person. Inform your loved one that internet and email scams are similar, often posing as advertisements and almost always requesting personal information. Some will initially say that they’ve won money or items, some may be pretending to be from their bank requesting that they enter their password, etc.
Solicitors coming to your senior’s door are sometimes con artists, asking for donations to various charities. Your senior may also receive phone calls supposedly from organizations such as the Red Cross, asking for funds. Insist that your family member always say no, and instead if they wish to donate to mail donations directly to their local Red Cross or to the official address of their chosen organization which you have okayed.
Fake lottery and sweepstakes scams are often sent via mail, and are usually in the form of two different ploys. The first one is a “pay to play” scam, which requests that your senior buys something in order to be in the contest, and the second one says that they’ve won a foreign country’s lottery and includes an authentic-looking check. If your family member receives either of these, insist they throw them out, as it is illegal to require someone to buy something to enter in a sweepstakes and it is also illegal for Americans to enter a foreign country’s lottery—which means both are scams.
Health Care Fraud
Health care fraud takes many forms, such as receiving bills for health care never received, receiving prescription drugs that are not needed, duplicate claims, overcharging for services, and requesting of excessive or unnecessary services. If you suspect your senior is a victim of health care fraud, contact the FBI.
Seniors are often targeted for identity theft, which can be disastrous. Identity thieves can obtain personal information from purse or wallet theft, finding information in the senior’s trash or mailbox, by phone and online scams, and theft of records. To avoid thieves easily obtaining your loved one’s personal information, make sure they keep important documents in a locked security box, use a locked mailbox, shred unneeded documents, receipts, etc before throwing away, insist they don’t share sensitive information with anyone who they don’t trust fully, and to check their credit reports and financial statements regularly.
Financial Exploitation Including Online Investment & Securities Fraud
Financial exploitation can rob a senior not just of their money or property, but of their happiness, self-esteem, trust, and will to live. Investment opportunities claiming to be low risk or guaranteeing high reward are usually scams; your family member should always verify claims and research companies before taking any further steps. The number one rule is: always be skeptical. Securities fraud can include stock fraud, broker misconduct, etc, and is often carried out by misrepresentation of information, providing false information, and offering bad advice. Insist your senior is very wary when working with a stockbroker, investment firm, etc.
If you would like to learn more about how our caregivers can help your loved one prevent senior fraud, give us a call at (805) 934-0600 or email us via our contact form.