Did you know that seniors are losing more than $3bn annually in scams? Here is a guide to avoiding elderly abuse and scams that plague our older generation
Older adults have spent a lifetime working and earning for a secure future. Scammers take advantage of seniors by exploiting their lack of knowledge about technology and preying on their fears. As per the FBI, millions of elderly fall prey to financial fraud every year.
They get exploited easily by getting caught up in Ponzi schemes and flim-flams, as they feel that the programs being offered by scammers are advantageous for their future.
They are shown dreams of helping them save more and making their life convenient which makes them spend their hard-earned dollars on nothing. Let’s take a look at some of the common elderly scams and how such scams can be avoided.
Fraud And Seniors
Most older Americans become an easy target of scams every year. Frauds with the elderly are generally financial scams that target the elder’s money or property. It generally includes telephone, internet, and mail scams.
Senior citizens who grew up in the 1930s through to the 1950s were raised to be polite and trustworthy and could easily trust others. Scammers consider these things and make seniors an easy target.
They also become an easy target as they have the savings of their life stored in their bank account, their retirement money, and financial savings to be used for their future. To get more money and at a better rate, seniors get involved in these scams easily.
How To Avoid Senior Scams
The Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests a consumer tip to avoid scams that you may receive by mails, dating sites, phone calls, or traditional mail to contact you. Just say “Sorry, I am not interested. I don’t make financial decisions without first talking to my accountant or lawyer.”
Scammers usually don’t have legitimate accounts which can be easily verified by looking at the following information:
- Scam profiles or websites do not have much data or photos, and the accounts are generally created very early.
- Some accounts are made with the copy names of existing accounts, but the spellings or logos are usually slightly different. One can quickly look into this before making any payment or accepting any proposal.
- It can also take place on downloaded software, so you should not download anything from the website that looks and seems legitimate.
Financial Scams Targeting Seniors In Canada
There are some of the common scams that are generally pitched to seniors, such as:
Registered Retirement Saving Plan
Usually, the advertisement proclaims that you can easily withdraw money without any taxes with the retirement saving plan. The schemes generally offer you plans to secure your future with huge amounts of money.
Once they receive investment from you, you are ghosted, and all your investments become null and void.
Exempt Securities Scam
Many fraud complaints sell-out schemes without filling any prospectus and are not legal. The scam is usually pitching to invest in a business where you are offered shares, and the investment procedure is relatively easy and simple.
It can be done with very easy paperwork, making you happier about the investment. The paperwork done in your presence is usually the false promises of the profits you will receive after investment. When you are entering into something like this, you can easily identify that you are getting scammed because everything will be “too easy”.
A scammer may contact you and claim that you have won a lottery, and they might further ask you for your bank details for a small security deposit; this is just a scheme to take your bank details and exploit it and can further lead to loss of all your savings.
Tech And Cyber Scams Against Seniors
Every year the cybercriminals steal approximately 40 billion dollars from older adults. The scammers find a great scope in targeting senior citizens as they generally lack skill in using the technologies and become vulnerable to getting scammed.
Even older adults without any phone or any technological device can become a victim of a technological scam in the case where a database has leaked their details.
They find it easy to seek your credit card details and other important information from you as you are more vulnerable, and your generation is the one who needs more time to learn the technical stuff.
Protecting Veterans Against Fraud And Scams
Taking out your time and the d taking up some queries and avoiding your personal information to someone who calls and asks for your information.
It is essential to avoid your bank account information, social security number, and birthrate from anyone trying to seek the details for personal use.
You should even talk to your friends, family members, lawyers, or any bank officer before confirming any proposal that comes with an unsolicited phone call or an email.
These people are the ones that can help you out quickly as they may be familiar with the scams that take place every day in their work environment.
Common Elder Fraud Schemes
By the time you reach your 60’s the demand for everyday medicines increases, and we must take medication according to the prescription. Depending on the type of drug and availability of healthcare benefits, it creates a perfect environment for scammers.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that 96 percent of the pharmacies operate against the law. The government and other organizations create awareness that purchasing drugs online can be a risk. Make sure to check the following before purchase:
- Only go to websites that are verified brick-and-mortar pharmacies.
- Don’t purchase from the pharmacy that gives you drugs based on a web-based questionnaire.
- Don’t purchase from the pharmacy store that provides your drugs that requires a prescription but sells you without a prescription.
Shopping Scams Against Seniors
The shopping scams are usually tough to guess. As you are generally not streamlined to sell you out, their scheming policy involves selling you products that are not worth and have no utility in your life. You are sometimes highly convinced to buy a product whether you are even interested in buying the same or not.
Some include weight loss products for seniors, anti-aging creams, etc. These kinds of products have a great demand in the market. But it’s pretty challenging to choose the right product. Sometimes the sellers sell it so that you are very much convinced and buy the products with your hard-earned money, and after that, the product is of no use.
There are ways by which you can protect yourself from getting trapped in the shopping scam, such as:
- If the website has too many pop-ups, then you should be skeptical.
- You should avoid making purchases from unknown websites. You should generally skip to websites with high market value, such as Amazon.
Romance Scams Against Seniors
Most people above 50 today have a memory of a world without the internet and have been out of the social boom. Many elder fraud cases can be avoided if the senior citizens are not isolated or have anyone to support them emotionally.
The romance scam is one of the most frequent frauds taking place at a high level in people with the need for a companion; these people are generally the ones who have lost their loved ones early and want someone to be with them.
The seniors are targeted because we need someone to be with us at that stage of life. Due to this emotional concern, many scammers take advantage by pretending to become caregivers and/or romantic partners (gold diggers). It has been observed that people of the United States are more prone to fall for scam.
Social Media Scams Against Seniors
Scamming the elderly is a multi-billion dollar business. The scammers take up all the retirement money by fraud. Social media scams generally happen when we receive pop-up ads and fake websites, known as phishing.
Phishing is defined as when scammers use fraudulent emails or texts or copycat websites to get you to share your vulnerable information.
Fraud websites take up information such as social security numbers, login IDs, and passwords to take up all your information.
Holiday Scams Against Seniors
In recent years, senior citizens are becoming more and more vulnerable to scams during the holiday season. Seniors get overwhelmed and become vulnerable to charity and Christmas donations. Below are a few types of holiday scams:
The Grandparent Scam
Sometimes the scammers come up with the people who claim to be your grandson or granddaughter and call you by asking for financial help that they require for medical or educational emergencies.
The concerned grandparents usually transfer the money into their account, being supportive and emotionally available but are generally scammed by a scammer using emotional facts for his good.
The thought of a family in need during any kind of disaster makes the seniors open their purse strings, and it becomes easy for scammers to ask for money.
Usually, this scam is done door to door when a scammer visits and asks for money in the name of disaster faced by any relative. Unfortunately, the people who come are not from any charity but come for the sake of money.
The seniors, the caregiver, and the concerned, usually give some amount and get scammed.
There are a lot of fake websites out there with items that you would love to purchase on the holidays, but when you press the purchase button and enter your credit card details, the money and card details end up with a scammer.
Holiday scams can be prevented if you keep an eye on your parent’s finances. Some healthy conversations with seniors can even make you more aware of what they are doing.
Catch The Con Quiz
A con is a person persuading you to do something by telling you things that are not true.
They mold your decision-making power in their favor, asking you to follow the instructions by making you believe that it’s for your good and continue to exploit you for their personal use.
The Catch the Con quiz is an effort by the AARP towards educating seniors about such cons. The quiz can be helpful for you to see how one needs to catch the scammer when you are being bluffed, or someone asks you for the person’s details.
You can refer to the Catch the Con Quiz – AARP and take the quiz to check out and know more about how scammers play. The basic idea behind this is to make you alert in the future. You should be very aware before sharing personal information with anyone.
Lawyering Up If You Have Been Scammed
The “elder justice act” was designed to make sure that federal and state agencies should coordinate with each other to help seniors who have been scammed or are undergoing abuse. Most of the laws that protect you are with the states. Many states have even made it clear that it is illegal even to contact senior citizens or ask for their personal information without their legal advisers.
If a scam has victimized you or any senior citizen, you should contact a criminal lawyer without losing any time. The lawyer will help you make sure that you have a solid case, and work upon the damages you might be owed.
When reporting a scam, regardless of the amount involved, mention as many details possible such as:
1. Name of the scammers and the company
2. Dates of contact
3. Method of communication
4. Phone numbers, email id, mailing addresses, and the websites used by the perpetrator
5. Description of all your transactions.
6. Description of all the interactions with the scammers and the instructions you were asked to follow.
Looking Out For Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse is another very common and troubling phenomenon that elders are facing today. Typically abuse involves neglect from primary caregivers, abuse of financial resources that rightfully belong to seniors, or even downright physical abuse and mental torture.
If you suspect elder financial abuse, don’t hesitate to confront and get the necessary authorities involved as soon as possible. It is very easy to figure out if someone has been a victim of scheming and fraud. There are various signs such as:
A change in daily habits
When older people are not in the right mental state due to financial abuse, they might find it hard to admit, but you can easily observe a change in their behavior. It can lead to change in their spending power, even compromising on buying the necessities.
If you are their guardian or a family member and have access to their mails, you might find unpaid bills or some unusual payees on statements which can help you find out if they are scammed or not.
Ignoring family and friends
Generally, after any scam, one removes and isolates themselves from the people who have more purchasing power than them as it makes it difficult for them to socialize.
There is a lot of content available online about scams, methodologies and how scammers steal money from seniors. But the easiest and most effective way for seniors to ward off all these scams is to just say “No” when something sounds too good to be true.
We hope the content in this article would have given you some ideas on how scammers are duping seniors of money. If you liked the content, feel free to share this information with others who are at risk. And do send your comments and suggestions on the article to us. We would love to answer back with all the necessary details that you might need.