Fraudulent activity directed at senior citizens is nothing new, but criminals constantly evolve by finding more and more sophisticated scams to fool the unassuming senior citizen. It’s for this reason that seniors and their caretakers must stay on top of the current scams.
Telemarketing Fraud – Con artists have long made use of the telephone to pitch various telemarketing deals, and today it’s no different. One long-running con involves asking you to wire money to pay for a prize that you won. The scammers may also ask you for your bank account number or credit card number, information that will make it easy for them to empty out your savings account or pile on charges. No legitimate company offering a prize asks for personal information except to verify your home address. If you have to fork over financial information or send money to claim your prize, then it is a scam.
Phishing Scams – The Internet is one of the most significant battlegrounds for con artists. From solicitations for help from far off countries to spammy emails selling pharmaceuticals and products you don’t need, online scams run the gamut.
Though not as prevalent as just a few years ago, some scammers take advantage of the confusion surrounding bank mergers to send emails to “customers” asking them to update their personal information online. Unfortunately, giving that information can lead to all sorts of problems for consumers including identity theft. If your bank says they need your information don’t believe it—they already have it.
Reverse Mortgages – Every month, thousands of seniors choose to take out a reverse mortgage, which allows them to obtain funds based on the equity in their house that they never have to pay back. The security of a reverse mortgage appeals to many people who live on fixed incomes, which is why so many scam artists hone in. Ignore unsolicited ads and seek out your own reverse mortgage from your bank or seek advice from a reputable financial advisor.
Counterfeit Prescriptions – Most seniors use at least one prescription drug to control blood pressure, aid them with sleeping or treat some other ailment. Be careful who fills your prescriptions, especially online pharmacies. Look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site seal of approval on all prescription medicine containers. Inspect your drugs carefully when they arrive; if something looks remiss then speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Often the scam should be obvious, but it can be easy to take people at their word. When in doubt, notify your local police department.
FBI: Fraud Target: Senior Citizens http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors
Kiplinger: Watch Out for Scams Targeting Seniors http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/krr-watch-out-for-scams-targeting-seniors.html