Senior citizens are one of the top targets for financial scams. Home ownership, savings, and strong credit ratings can all make senior citizens especially attractive to swindlers. Senior citizens may be less likely to report an issue because they may not know where to report it or may be ashamed at having fallen for a scam—if they are aware that it was a scam. They may also be concerned that younger relatives will think that they should no longer be able to live independently or take care of financial matters.
It’s important to understand what common senior scams look like and to share that information with the older Americans in your life so that they can remain on alert against being taken advantage of.
With today’s ever-evolving health care system, senior citizens may be especially susceptible to health care scams. Scammers will call and claim to be health care or Medicare representatives in order to gain access to personal information. They may offer assistance for seniors seeking medical coverage or claim that they spoke with a trusted family member and obtained permission for the senior to release Social Security numbers and other personal information. Some scammers use the senior’s personal information to bill Medicare and then pocket the money for themselves.
Family Member in Need
Some scammers will call senior citizens and pose as a grandchild or great grandchild in need of financial assistance, often using data found on Facebook and other forms of social media to make the story believable. The scammer will frequent call the older person and say something such as, “Hi Grandpa, do you know who this is?” Once the grandparent guesses a name, the scammer can establish a fake identity and ask for help with an unexpected financial crisis.
Some seniors search online for their medications due to rising costs of some prescriptions. However, drugs purchased online can be counterfeit and dangerous, or may never be delivered. If a deal seems too good to be true, it very likely is. Seniors who are unsure of whether or not a deal is legitimate can contact their local police department’s fraud unit; if the local department doesn’t have a fraud unit, they will likely be referred to the state police or FBI.
Seniors may also be targeted by online scams such as pop-up browser windows that convince them to download a fake (and often expensive) anti-virus program or a virus. Another example of a popular online scam is email messages that appear to be from a legitimate institution such as the IRS that ask unsuspecting seniors to update or verify personal information.
Scammers will also read the obituaries and contact surviving family members to claim that the newly deceased had an outstanding debt that needs to be paid.
Investment schemes ranging from pyramid schemes to Nigerian princes attempting to claim their inheritance money are common ways to take advantage of senior citizens. Homeowners may be especially susceptible to reverse mortgage scams. Seniors may also be informed that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes as a potential scam.
Are you a victim of senior fraud?
If you are concerned that you or a loved one has been a victim of a scam, call Schuerman Law today. With more than 40 years of experience, John Schuerman is a compassionate advocate for your rights who will fight for justice and compensation for victims of fraud. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-274-0045.