There are enough things to be concerned about when it comes to finances without worrying about financial scams and fraud. Yet, this is something that I have found has become increasingly more prominent and has created a need for awareness.
Anyone can become a victim of a financial scam, but seniors are more vulnerable. One of the reasons why is because they are far more trusting. They also may not have access to the technology that can keep them informed about the many different scams.
One of the common types of scams that I personally am the most concerned about lies within the medical industry.
- Health Insurance and Medicare:
Most US residents know they are entitled to Medicare once they reach age 65. What can happen is a person can pose as a Medicare agent and gather all types of personal information from a senior. Or some have more elaborate schemes where they will set up bogus clinics. Seniors will attend these and receive inferior medical care. The perpetrators of this will then bill Medicare and keep the payments.
I have found that many seniors have become quite familiar with the internet and will use it for different shopping needs. One of these may be for getting a lower price on prescriptions. The scam here is that the senior can receive the wrong drugs. Or useless ones. Or they make a payment upfront and never receive the drugs. They are too embarrassed to report this so that they will accept the loss of the payment.
Most would agree with me that all scams are horrid, but this one is alarming. Senior enter into funeral and cemetery contracts thinking they have protected their loved ones from having to deal with this. Here I have outlined a variety of different scams that fall into this category.
- The grieving widow or widower: Scam artists will attend the spouse’s funeral who has passed and made friends with the surviving spouse. They may spread this false friendship out over time where they drain the victim of assets and money. Or they may make it a quick hit where they will tell the spouse that the deceased owed them money. The grieving person is not thinking straight and may pay this bogus debt with no proof it exists.
- Escalation of Funeral Costs: Another despicable scam is by funeral homes that are experts at draining the survivor of as much money as possible. They do this by convincing them to buy the most expensive services. One being the casket, which is normally expensive anyway. The survivors are extremely vulnerable at this time and will tend to buy into whatever is presented to them.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to phone scams. Quite often, they cannot clearly hear what is being said to them, and they will fall for all types of likes. Scammers are very good at preying on the seniors who are often lonely and are just glad to hear another voice. After a little bit of sweet-talking, the senior may end up making some hefty donations to a whole gambit of phony charities.
- The Sharing Scam
This is called the “Pigeon Drop” the scammer will create an elaborate story of how they found some money. All perfectly legal, according to them. They want to share their good fortune with the senior who they have targeted on the telephone. All the senior has to do is make a “good faith” payment to the scammer. In many cases, there will be a second scammer who will act as the banker who will take this good faith payment.
- The Fathom Accident
A scammer will get to know some basics about the senior’s family. With this knowledge, they will later contact the senior with an urgent request for money to be sent because a relative has suffered a mishap and is in the Hospital. This scam works well when the scammer has learned that one of the seniors’ family members is going out of the country for a holiday or business.
- Mortgage Scams
Many seniors own their homes, and they are mortgage-free. Some scammers will capitalize on this and try to get the senior to take out a bogus mortgage. Some using the reverse mortgage as a way to create a scam.
I know it can be very difficult for seniors to stay aware of all the different scams that they may be subjected to. My suggestion is to not do anything financially without the assistance of a trusted family member.