It’s an unfortunate fact that seniors are typically the victims of scam artists. One reason is that the elderly grew up in a more trusting time, when business was conducted more often with a handshake than a contract. Loneliness and memory issues can also make seniors more trusting than they should be, and sadly, the scammers are aware of this.
However, knowing the types of senior scams out there today can help you be more aware of when you’re being targeted.
Typical Scams Aimed at Seniors
- Investment/Lottery Scams: Seniors planning for retirement may be looking for a way to protect their cash. Investment scams usually promise “the opportunity of a lifetime” for seniors to spend their entire savings on stock in a brand new or never-heard-of-before company. But if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. The same goes for lottery scams – be wary of what sounds too good to be true. If you’re alerted that you’ve won a prize, but need to make a payment to claim it, this is a huge red flag.
- Telemarketing/Email Scams: These types of senior scams are often similar to the investment and lottery scams. Seniors are asked to send money, usually via Western Union or a similar organization, and led to believe they’ll receive a fortune in return. Or, they’ll receive an email that looks like it could be from their banking institution, when in reality it’s a scammer seeking private information like account or PIN numbers. You should never give out any personal information without verifying it is legitimate first. If you receive a suspicious phone call, a good idea is to ask for a name and phone number so you can call back at a later time. If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a phone call or email, call the organization directly.
- Door-to-Door Scams: Seniors are frequent victims of these high-pressure sales tactics. Some door-to-door salespeople are honest, but chances are high that scammers will attempt to swindle seniors into buying something you may not need. You should never allow anyone you don’t know into your home. Ask to see credentials and a business card, and read all the materials before buying something on impulse. Make sure the contract is complete and all terms of the agreement are in writing, like price, warranties, etc.
- Charity Scams: Sadly, because many seniors have big hearts and are willing to donate money to those in need, this makes them a prime target for scam artists. Callers will claim to represent a charity seeking money, or send an email soliciting donations. If you wish to make a donation to a charity, it’s advised to contact the organization yourself instead.
- Medicare Card Scams: Oftentimes scammers will target seniors and tell them their Medicare cards need to be replaced, and will ask for personal information to send a new card. Medicare drug discount cards are offered by some companies, and they can save you money; however, these are also popular with scam artists. Know that Medicare drug discount cards are not sold door-to-door or over the phone, and Medicare will never ask for financial information as they can access your records from the IRS.
Scam artists are creative and sneaky, and are constantly seeking new ways to swindle seniors. Understanding how they work will help avoid becoming the next victim.
For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.