5 FINANCIAL SCAMS targeting seniors
Financial scams often go unreported because people are embarrassed to admit they fell for a con. Also, it’s difficult to prosecute a financial scam because these con artists are good at gaining your trust and convincing you to send money in a way that it cannot be traced.
All older adults are at risk of financial abuse. Low-income and wealthy seniors are targeted. Also, according to the National Council on Aging, 90% of all elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family members.
1. Medicare/health insurance scam
Since all people 65 and older qualifies for Medicare, this population is an easy target. The scam artist doesn’t need to even do any research into which company you are insured through. In these types of scams, criminals pose as Medicare representatives to ask for personal information, like you social security number.
Never give your full social security number to a “representative” who calls you asking about your Medicare plan. Never send money to someone, even for services you think you may have used, through a wire transfer of prepaid credit card.
2. Counterfeit prescription drugs
Counterfeit drug scams typically operate on the Internet. Seniors may look for better deals on their expensive prescriptions and specialized medications. The danger in looking for cheaper drugs online is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances.
Talk to your doctor when you have concerns about expensive medications, and maybe he or she can provide you with a less expensive generic pill or other alternative.
3. Funeral & Cemetery scams
There are two main types of funeral cemetery scams: widow scam and upselling.
In a widow or widowers scam, these criminals read obituaries and target grieving spouses. These scammers claim that the deceased owes him or her an outstanding debt. Scammers try to collect on this debt during a time when the grieving spouse may not be thinking clearly.
In the upselling scam, disreputable funeral homes may try to sell you services that you don’t want or need. For example, a shady funeral director may tell you that you need a casket – one of the most expensive parts of the funeral process – when you are having a loved one cremated. Cremations can actually be performed in a cardboard casket, not a display casket.
4. Fraudulent anti-aging products
Everyone wants to look and feel younger. But any product advertised as a “miracle cure” is suspect.
In the past, people have been taken advantage of by buying fake Botox (see: Arizona, 2006) and bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing. Be careful when purchasing products that make promises that sound too good to be true.
5. Telemarketing/phone scams
Fake telemarking calls are probably the most common scheme when is comes to those who prey on older adults. As a group, seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. Older people are more familiar with making deals over than phone, and many seniors spend time alone at home looking for someone to talk to.
Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
The Pigeon Drop
In this con, an individual tells the senior that he or she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split that sum with the senior if he or she puts down a “good faith” deposit. A second scammer is sometimes involved posing as a banker or lawyer.
Never give someone you do not know money. Also, you will never have to pay money to receive a prize for any type of legitimate lottery.
The Fake Accident Ploy
In this common scam, a con artist will prey on the senior’s vulnerability by making him or her react under pressure. The scammer will call the senior and say that a family member needs money because they are in the hospital.
Another related scam involves a criminal calling the senior pretending to be a child or grandchild in need of immediate money. This type of scam is commonly called the grandparent scam.
Always verify with the alleged injured family member before sending money.
Often, scammers will prey on a senior’s good will and ask for donations to a fake charity. It’s great to donate to charity, but always check to make sure that the foundation or cause you are donating to is legitimate.