Identifying and Protecting Seniors From Scams
If you didn’t know senior citizen scams are a big problem in our country, you should review some of the statistics related to the subject. For example, the financial services company TrueLink estimated recently that $36.5 billion a year were earned by scam artists who targeted seniors.
The AARP organization also reported recently that the average loss involved in senior scams was close to $120,000. These are staggering numbers, and when you consider these people worked a lifetime to accumulate savings for retirement, they are heart-breaking figures as well. Clearly, some strategies are necessary for protecting seniors from scams.
Scammers like to target the most vulnerable subjects, so they specifically seek out those who might be suffering from dementia or some other mental challenge. They will pretend to be the senior’s new best friend to gain their confidence, before defrauding them out of their hard-earned assets.
Keep in mind scammers aren’t necessarily strangers who come calling, or make phone calls to seniors at home. These scammers can also be relatives or friends who are in financial need, and recognize that senior relatives can be exploited. In fact, it is known that more than 90% of all scammers of senior citizens are actually adult family members or their children. This can be particularly effective because those individuals are known to the senior, and are automatically trusted because of their position within the family. Seniors who are easily confused make particularly inviting targets to family-member scammers, because they have no reason to suspect the scam.
Scams which target seniors
Considering the majority of scammers come from within a senior’s own family, you may think depleting their bank accounts would be the main type of scam, but there are actually many others. Some of these involve neglect or even physical violence or abuse, intended to coerce the senior into surrendering their assets.
Among the most popular types of scams used to secure seniors’ assets are Medicare or health insurance claims, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral scams, anti-aging products, and telemarketing scams. Investment schemes are also common scams meant to separate seniors from their assets, as well as Internet scams, sweepstakes and lottery scams, homeowner mortgage scams, and even grandparent scams.
This last scam is particularly devious. A scammer will call on the phone, and just ask the senior to guess who it is. Once they guess the name of a relative, the caller pretends to be that person, and informs the senior about a financial crisis they have. It’s only natural that the kind-hearted senior would want to help solve the crisis for a family member.