There are a number of online and in-person scams that can affect anyone, especially the senior population. Seniors, and older adults in general, are actually more likely to fall victim to online scams as many aren’t as well versed with some forms of technology compared to the younger generations.
Things like phone and email scams are common ways that people can get their hands on your or your loved one’s personal information such as their social security number. According to one U.S. Senate report, it is estimated that older Americans lose about $2.9 billion a year to schemes and scams.
Protection Against Fraud
There are a number of preventative measures that you or a loved one can take to be protected against online or in-person fraud.
Protect Confidential Information
Some older individuals sometimes become less secure with their personal and confidential information as they age. However, this is not a good habit. We should not become complacent as we age, instead become more secure with your documents and financials. If not done properly, it could lead to identify theft or some other problem.
Learn About Online Scams
While the older population is becoming better with technology and the internet, most are still susceptible to online scams. Seniors should be educated on what to look for online to help spot a potential scam. Most know that there is a common scam in which an email from a foreign country contacts you asking for help contributing a large sum of money. They ask for important personal and financial information. There is a reason that these are still common and well-known, because people still fall for them. Be weary of any email or online message asking for important information, speak with a loved one about the message if you are unsure.
Another common scam is over the phone in which someone calls seniors pretending to be from a government organization like the IRS and accuses them of wrongdoing. Out of fear, a senior or older adult may offer up personal information such as a social security number. Talk with your loved ones about how to deal with these situations should they arise. Learning about these types of scams before they occur can be all the difference to preventing them.
Seniors Fraud Prevention Act
In February, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced bipartisan legislation to help crack down on fraud aimed at seniors. The legislation will look into schemes such as fraudulent investment plans, charity scams, internet fraud, predatory home lenders, telemarketing, and more.
“The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would help enhance fraud monitoring, increase consumer education, and strengthen the complaint tracking system to help prevent seniors from being robbed of their hard-earned savings through threatening and manipulative scams,” said Sen. Collins.
The act would work to help protect seniors from fraud by ensuring that complaints of fraud are handled in a timely manner by law enforcement agencies. It would also require the Federal Trade Commission to work with other agencies to monitor the market for fraud schemes targeted at seniors.
Senator Collins has worked to help seniors fight fraud in the past, including releasing a report on how to identify scams. The report looks at the top 10 most-reported scams in the country based on complaints. According to the report, IRS impersonation is the most prominent scam by far.
IRS Impersonation Scam
According to statistics, more than 2.4 million Americans have been targeted by scammers impersonating IRS officials. There are many variations of this scheme but generally criminals will accuse victims of missing payments and owing back taxes. They will threaten victims with things like home foreclosure, arrest, or other forms of retaliation. They will tell victims that if they immediately pay the amount allegedly owed, the problem will be resolved. Unfortunately, a lot of people, especially seniors fall for this scam. Is should be noted that the IRS has said that they will never call a taxpayer to demand payment and will never demand a payment without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to ask a about the problem.
Why Seniors Are At Risk
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says that senior citizens should be aware of fraud schemes due to the fact that they are more at-risk of running into fraud for a number of reasons. The FBI says that seniors and older adults are more likely to experience fraud because:
- They generally have good credit and a “nest egg” that makes them more attractive to con artists
- Older Americans are less likely to report fraud because they don’t know who to report to or may be too ashamed to have been scammed
- When a senior does report a crime, they often are poor witnesses due to the effects age has on memory and other cognitive functions
- Seniors are more interested, and more susceptible, to products that advertise increased cognitive function, physical conditioning, and more.
Overall, financial scams and schemes can affect everyone, however, older adults are more at risk than others for a number of reasons. While there are legislative efforts to crackdown on fraud that targets older adults, seniors should learn more about the scams that are common so that they can identify and avoid them. Learning more about specific types of fraud, like IRS impersonation will prevent you or a loved one from losing money or personal information in the future. Sometimes, this requires the help of another person.
At Landmark Senior Living, our residents are will have access to a medical staff that can help them with their health issues. Similarly, residents will be able to participate in a number of social events and activities that are put on by our staff. Your loved one can remain healthy and happy as they continue on to the next chapter in their lives. If you are interested in learning more about what our facilities have to offer and how they can help your or a loved one, please visit our website and schedule a complimentary walkthrough.