The Biggest Scams Targeting the Elderly

Author: Tami Rogers

| Published on: August,19 | Viewed: 2440 times


It’s hard to imagine that anyone would try and steal money from seniors. But along with the age of the Internet, cell phones, and information at our fingertips, it has become more pervasive than ever.

So what are the things to look out for? And how do we protect not only ourselves, but also the people we love?

Here are some of the top scams currently targeting seniors along with some strategies to help keep yourself and those you love safe.

Medicare and Health Insurance Fraud

Because every American over the age of 65 automatically qualifies for social security, scam artists don’t have to do any research about what private health care company you subscribe to. So that makes it easier for them to set up Medicare scams.

Posing as Medicare representatives, these perpetrators get seniors to give them information on the phone, online, or sometimes at the front door. They may even offer bogus services with makeshift mobile “clinics” then using the personal information they collect, bill Medicare and pocket the money.

Prescription Drug Scams

Seniors pay millions of dollars every year for prescription drugs. While Medicare may cover some, many are left covering hundreds of dollars every month in bills. This makes seniors susceptible to online schemes offering deeply discounted prices on prescription drugs.

And once shoppers hand over their credit card number, the scammers will have their money and credit card information.

Internet and e-mail Scams

Most seniors are not as comfortable and savvy on the Internet as the younger generation. That makes them vulnerable to scam artists.

How many times have you received an e-mail stating that you “won” a trip or luxury item? Though many of us are well aware of these old tricks, a vulnerable senior may not, giving away personal and credit card information with just a few keystrokes.

Charity Scams

Imagine people preying on the compassion of a senior citizen. Horrible, but it happens more than you think.

Scammers contact seniors by phone or even show up at their front door with sad stories of children or people in need along with a plea for money. A telemarketer will probably insist the money is needed urgently right now, therefore insisting on a credit card payment rather than a check in the mail.

This gives the senior virtually no time to investigate the “charity” and make a sound decision. What’s more, taking advantage of a senior’s compassion and good heart can be especially painful.

The Grandparent Scam

This scam is particularly unscrupulous because it preys directly on the heart of the elderly.

With just a small amount of information, the scammer calls up a senior claiming to be their grandchild. Often saying something like, “Hi grandma, do you know who this is?”

Once the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild, the scammer has established a fake identity and can ask for emergency financial “help” by getting their credit card information.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

There are some simple steps you can take to keep yourself or your loved one’s financial future secure. Here are some recommendations:

  • Be Skeptical

    • It may be difficult if you are generally a trusting person. But being generally suspicious of cold calls, unsolicited letters and emails promising huge rewards is an effective way to stay protected.

  • Ask Questions and Get Information First

    • Before you commit yourself or your credit card to ANY new business or solicitation do your homework. Get names, addresses and phone numbers. Just asking questions can scare some scammers away.

  • Get Familiar With Online Safety

    • Go only to reputable websites for purchases, adjust e-mail to the highest spam setting, NEVER share your social security number over the phone or online. If they claim it’s the bank calling, hang up and call the bank directly. Most banks will never ask for social security numbers over the phone or online.

  • Don’t Make Quick Decisions

    • If a telemarketer is pressuring you to make a fast financial commitment, hang up the phone. Never make the decision to hand over your money without careful research.

  • Invest carefully

    • Choose a financial advisor wisely. Get a referral from a friend or family member. Do not invest with someone who just shows up at your door or sends you an e-mail without doing a lot of investigation.

  • Check The Better Business Bureau

    • The Better Business Bureau is a fantastic resource to check the legitimacy of financial institutions, charities and other organizations. Check it before offering up funds. If a business isn’t registered, it could be fraudulent.

  • Don’t Pay to Play

    • NEVER pay money to gain a prize. If someone asks you for a bank routing number to pay for “shipping” or “tax” to receive your prize, it is a sure sign that it’s not legit.

For more information on topics that matter to you, visit the Seniorly Resource Center and search by topic or keyword. 

About Tami Rogers

Tami Rogers is a mom, award winning writer, passionate chef, blogger and frequent contributor to Seniorly and other sites dedicated to seniors and aging well. She also writes for parenting magazines and websites focused on the emotional well being of teens.

Other Articles written by Tami Rogers

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