Each year, elderly Americans lose almost $3 billion to financial exploitation. Often vulnerable, easily confused or hard of hearing, the elderly population have become an easy target for fraudsters. According to the National Council on Aging, here are some of the top financial scams targeting seniors:
Medicare/Health Insurance Scams
These scams involve a fraudster posing as health or insurance representative to obtain personal information that can be used to steal the person’s identity.
Telemarketing scams are some of the most common scams for older people. These include a scammer posing as a lawyer or banker asking for a “good faith” payment, a fraudster posing as a relative or friend asking for money for an emergency, and fake charity scams. Also be suspicious of a company asking you to send money to qualify you to win a prize.
Funeral & Cemetery Scams
There are two types of funeral and cemetery fraud. The first type occurs when scammers reach out to family members of people listed in obituaries and attempt to settle the fake debts of the deceased. The second comes from disreputable funeral homes that aim to take advantage of grieving families who are unfamiliar with the costs of funeral services.
Pop-up browser windows advertising virus-scanning software or windows that suggest downloading a fake anti-virus program and phishing scams are continuing to gain traction. Clicking on downloads that plant viruses in computers or submitting personal information to an email scam are both growing dangers.
The Grandparent Scam
This scam occurs when a fraudster attempts to confuse a grandparent into believing they’re talking to a grandchild and then convinces them to wire money for a fake emergency. If you think this might be happening, offer to call the relative back or insist on getting in touch with another member of your family to help.
What to do
If you receive a call that you suspect is fraud it is important to not give out any personal information like your bank account number, date of birth or driver license number or send money to someone you do not know. Also use extreme caution when conducting any business on a mobile device.
If you think you or a family member has been the victim of a scam, please inform the police and your bank immediately (especially if money has been removed from your account). Reporting a scam could help authorities catch more criminals and protect other elderly Americans.
Please note that financial companies will never ask for personal information over the phone or through email. If you have any doubt about the validity of a call or email, reach out to the company being represented immediately. They will be able to tell you if the communication is real or a scam.