It is an unfortunate truth that senior citizens are often the most targeted demographic for identity theft, real estate scams, and fraud. One study published in 2017 estimated that scammers steal more than $2.9 billion from senior citizens worldwide every year. Scammers target seniors because they are more likely to have significant savings accounts tucked away, either for their retirement or their children and grand-kids.
Seniors are also less familiar with technology and are more prone to accepting someone else’s word about what is safe to discuss over the phone. Scammers get in contact with seniors over different channels such as Facebook, email, phone, or other sites. To be prepared for any potential scam, you’ll need to prepare your senior to handle scammers on their own. Here are some common scams that your senior should know about.
It’s horrible to think about, but Medicare fraud is one of the most common scams that seniors face. Scammers will pose as Medicare representatives over the phone and trick seniors citizens into giving their information over the phone. One of the most common approaches involves promising some fake offer for free medical devices or supplies and asking the person to provide their Medicare information along with their credit card information for shipping and handling fees.
Tax fraud is another one of the most common scams that criminals use to take advantage of seniors. Criminals can obtain a senior’s social security number by creating a false website that asks users to input their private information. Hackers can even get a hold of social security numbers and license numbers through this method, sometimes over the phone and sometimes merely online.
This form of fraud involves a scammer stealing someone’s personal information to use their identification for criminal purposes such as purchasing products or registering vehicles. This type of theft can occur over the phone or even online. Sometimes scammers can use multiple people’s identification information to create a single fake persona.
This type of scam is one of the most deplorable because it involves preying on people during their time of grieving. These scammers will read obituaries and do online research to find out more about the person who passed away. Then, they either attend the funeral or get in contact with the family of the deceased and attempt to resolve the fake outstanding debt. They insist that the deceased owed them money and continually try to extort the family for money.
Fake Virus Scams
This scam method is mainly catered towards seniors because most seniors are not familiar with technology. Seniors will inadvertently click a pop-up that is usually disguised as a computer update or fake virus scanning software. Users will click the pop-up thinking they are solving their computer problems when in actuality they are giving criminals access to all the private information on their computer.
Seniors are more likely to have a large sum of money saved up, either for retirement or to pass along to their children and grandchildren. Con artists will get a hold of their contact information and pretend to be a legitimate entity offering investment opportunities. These phony investments may entail just stealing credit card information, but some also involve pyramid schemes, complex financial products, or even a pretend foreigner looking for someone to claim inheritance money.
Some scammers may disguise themselves as utility workers or city employees to trick seniors into paying bills that do not exist. In some instances, they may even show up to your senior’s place of residence in worker’s uniform and ask for money. Advanced scammers may also manipulate phone numbers to show up as the utility company’s caller ID. One red flag is when the “utility worker” asks for your information over the phone or demands payment within the hour, or your service will be turned off.
Seniors grew up in an era when you can generally trust people over the phone. Things like politeness and proper grammar were signs that they were dealing with a professional or trusted individual. When dealing with telemarketing scammers over the phone, they may have trouble hanging up abruptly or saying no. Many telemarketing scammers are persistent and will continually call.
The Pigeon Drop
The pigeon drop is a scam that’s one of the oldest in the book. The pigeon drop can be done over the phone, in person, or online. The scammer will usually pose as someone who has come into a large sum of money and is willing to split it with the victim if they make a good faith deposit. Sometimes a third party entity who is allied with the scammer will pretend to be a lawyer or banker.
This type of scam will usually occur after a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado. The scammer will contact the victim and pose as a charity or relief organization asking for donations. This scam tugs at the victim’s heartstrings and involves stealing their credit card information, which they could use to steal even more funds.
The Family Member in Need
This type of scam starts with a con artist convincing the senior to send them money to help pay hospital bills for a family member who has had an accident. Scammers may use email or the phone to get in contact with the senior. They could also create a fake Facebook profile with the same last name as your senior or hack into a family member’s profile and get in contact with your senior.
Signs That Your Senior is Being Scammed
No matter what the method that the scammers choose to get in contact with your senior, some telltale signs can help you identify and prevent the scam from happening. Here are the telltale signs that you are dealing with a con artist.
- You need to act now, or there is a pressing time limit
- You’ve won some free prize, but they need your information for shipping and handling
- You need to wire or send money
- You need to handle funds for someone else, either depositing money or forwarding money to someone else
- They contact you out of the blue, and you have no idea what their organization is
Some signs that your senior needs to watch out for online include red flags for fake websites. Fake websites red flags are:
- The site pops up in a new browser window
- There is no secure lock by the web address at the top of the page
- The site looks strange, or there are flashing images or poor web design
When you look up the company, they have bad reviews or no reviews at all
If you’re looking for more senior living blogs and resources, make sure to read our informative blogs every week. They will provide answers to many senior living topics. If your thinking it may be time for your loved one to move into one of the best active retirement communities, Landmark Senior Living is the place for you. People. Passion. Purpose. That’s our mantra, and we live by it every day.