Financial Scams Targeted at Older Adults
It’s an unfortunate truth that older adults are frequent victims of financial scams. After a recent analysis of senior fraud cases, the Justice Department found that victims have lost more than $500 million worldwide.
Why Seniors Are Fraud Targets
One reason seniors are targeted is because they often have a valuable nest egg – about $84,000 on average – that criminals want to get their hands on. Seniors are also vulnerable because they are generally more trusting, less tech savvy and more unaware of modern scam techniques than those in the younger generations.
Seniors are also statistically less likely to report fraud. Estimates show that only about 1 out of 44 financial crimes involving seniors are reported, partially because older adults do not want to appear incapable of protecting themselves to their children.
We all want our older loved ones to be safe and well-protected during their golden years, which is why it is crucial they know what types of scams are prevalent and how they can avoid becoming a victim.
5 Common Senior Scams
Health Insurance Scams
Since all Americans over 65 qualify for Medicare, scammers often use this as a way to pry personal information from seniors. They may send emails or letters, make phone calls or even set up fake mobile clinics at health clubs or shopping malls to get what they need to file fraudulent insurance or Medicare claims.
Counterfeit Prescriptions Drugs
This is an increasingly common internet scam, as more people are looking to the web to find low prescription drug prices. While there are plenty of legitimate services out there, it was recently estimated that there are more than 36,000 “rogue” online pharmacies selling drugs with inaccurate amounts of active ingredients. Some even contain dangerous contaminants.
Telemarketing and Phone Scams
Unfortunately, older adults that live alone are especially easy targets for telemarketing scammers. They often make cold calls offering free prizes or health care products at very low prices. They may request a small postage or “collection” fee, which they can use to access your bank information.
Although the “boomer” generation is migrating online more than ever before, many are still slow to develop computer skills, making them vulnerable to digital scams. Automated phishing emails claiming they need information are common, as are pop-up browser windows asking the user to download “free software.” Both leave users vulnerable to identify theft and inadvertently downloading harmful malware.
Since many older adults are focused on retirement and growing their nest egg, thieves may use investment scams to take advantage. These scams can take many forms – such as pyramid or Ponzi schemes, “risk free” investment offers, promissory notes or the classic Nigerian prince inheritance letter – and promise a hefty financial return after an initial investment or fee.
Tips for Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
These are just a few tips – some from the FBI – that can help people of all ages avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Shred sensitive documents – This includes all bank statements, receipts and mail that lists your name and address.
- Never give out personal information – This means over the phone, online or through the mail unless you initiate the contact.
- Never respond to strange or unsolicited offers – If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Ask a friend or family member if you’re confused by a message or phone call.
- Always discuss investments with family or advisors – A person or company providing a legitimate investment opportunity will not pressure you into making a quick decision.
- Don’t pay for services in advance – If a stranger is requesting money now and promising service later, this is a red flag.
- Close unused credit cards or bank accounts – These are channels for identity theft. If you don’t use them, you may as well close them.
- Ask for details in writing – Unannounced solicitors, either online or in person, should send you an offer in writing before you give them any money.
Senior Living in North Carolina
One way to ensure seniors are safe is to consider the benefits of community living. Twin Lakes Community in Burlington treasures our community members’ independence as well as their family’s peace of mind, which is why we are dedicated to providing a secure place for seniors to spend their time and bond with neighbors.
For more information, call 336-538-1572 or visit us online today!