Did you know that billions of dollars are taken away from vulnerable seniors yearly due to scams? But why is that so? Many Seniors are thought to have large amounts of money sitting in their bank accounts. Because of this, many scams targeting senior citizens result in financial abuse.
So, what do these scams include, and what should you look out for as you or your parent become older? In this blog, we will talk about six elder scams you should be aware of and let your parent know if you are a caregiver. Keep reading to learn about these.
- Lottery Scams
Winning the lottery or any sort of sweepstakes can seem exciting at the moment. However, AARP explains that if you are ever contacted through the phone, a postcard, an email, or social media that you have won a prize, this is most likely a financial scam.
Con artists may tell you that you have won, but in return, they will ask that you provide them with bank account information, tell you to purchase gift cards and that you provide them with the card numbers, or request you to send money through a wire transfer. Be careful not to act too fast. If you or your parent are contacted and told that you have won the lottery or sweepstakes, know that this is likely a scam.
- Grandparent Scams
Does your parent often worry about their family members? Grandparents have a special place in their hearts for their relatives, and they will do what they can to make sure that they stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, this leads many con artists to take part in what is called the grandparent scam.
Scammers will either call or email the grandparent posing as the relative or a lawyer or law enforcement agent who claims to represent the relative. The said relative will tell the grandparent that they are in distress and need money; the grandparent is often told to wire money to be used for hospital bills, bail money, etc.
If your parent is contacted about this, make sure that they contact their relative at another phone number to confirm what was said. It is best to make sure that all the details are correct before attempting to help the relative, although, it is likely that these kinds of situations are phone scams.
If your parent falls victim to this, it is suggested that it gets reported to local law enforcement, a state attorney general, as well as the National Consumers League’s Fraud center.
- Mortgage Scams
Are you or your parent homeowners? Keep an eye out for reverse mortgage scams. As noted by Investopedia, a reverse mortgage is a tool that is available to seniors who are over age 62. This can be helpful during retirement.
However, many scams occur with reverse mortgages, such as foreclosure and equity theft scams. Investopedia shares a few different ways to avoid these kinds of scams, which includes going to reputable sources.
- Investment Scams
As seniors begin to reach their retirement, many begin to want to invest their money in different places, hoping to get a return later. However, beware of “get rich quick” schemes and other scams that may reel you or your parent in.
While you will invest your money, you will not get the return you are looking for. As AARP discusses, scammers try to get people’s attention through email, robocalls, social media, and television. As always, be wary. Getting told to send money immediately is just one of the giveaways that the investment is a scam.
- Medicare Scams
Once reaching age 65, seniors are eligible for Medicare. And unfortunately, many of these elders are targets of Medicare fraud. In this case, as Medicare.gov explains on its government website, scammers might try to possess your Medicare Number or other personal information so that they can steal your identity.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that you protect your Medicare card as best as you can. Keep in mind that Medicare will not call to sell you anything, they will not come to see you at your home, they will not ask for your Medicare Number or other personal information (unless you have requested them to contact you previously), as well as other scenarios.
In addition, keep in mind that you may receive calls from people who say that they will give you things in exchange for your Medicare Number. Beware of this, and make sure that your parent does not fall victim to it either.
If you do think that you may have been a victim of Medicare fraud, do not hesitate to call the Medicare hotline for help.
- COVID-19 Scams
Unfortunately, during these difficult times, adults of all ages are being subject to scams relating to the coronavirus pandemic. As usual, seniors are more likely to fall victim to these scams than others. That being said, make sure to be aware of different ways scammers are trying to get vulnerable people’s money.
As explained by the Federal Trade Commission, this includes purchasing test kits through ads, as many of these are not exactly accurate and have not been approved by the FDA. You should also note not to respond to text messages, calls, or emails that refer to checks from the government, as these are scams. Make sure that you and your parent know how to receive your stimulus check.
There are many other ways scammers are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people during these times—as the FTC explains further—and it is important to know what to be aware of.
Stay Safe, Stay Aware
In all, it is essential that older adults are aware of the different kinds of scams out there that result in elder abuse. While we have only touched on a few in this blog, there are others to keep in mind.
While older Americans may be more susceptible to falling for scams resulting in financial exploitation, they do not have to be, take the time to educate yourself and your parent about elder fraud. Remember that many scammers ask for important information such as your social security, credit card number, and so on and so forth. Avoid giving this away.
There are simple ways to make sure that you and your parent do not become victims of these scams, such as registering for Do Not Call, as the National Council on Aging suggests. Also, if you have been a victim of a scam, contact legal services and Adult Protective Services if you feel prompted to do so. The U.S. Department of justice official website is also a good place to find more information on this topic. It is important that you and your parent are safe.