Did you know that every year, Seniors lose a collective estimate of 2.9 billion dollars?

Internet and phone scams are something that Seniors haven’t dealt with for most of their lives. The introduction of the internet and scam sites has presented major issues and pitfalls for those who are older among us.

Why are Seniors targeted? Some qualities causing Seniors to be common scam targets include:

  • Their increased presence at home: as they age, most Seniors spend more and more time at home, creating more time for telemarketers and solicitors to contact these individuals.

  • Their trust: in general, Seniors seem to be more trusting of the marketplace, and engage in purchasing transactions without an air of distrust. In general, they are giving entrepreneurs the benefit of the doubt.

  • Their time: a retired person is more likely to have the time to engage in a conversation with a scammer, and scour the internet for deals in their free time. This can be as a result of retirement or just beginning to enjoy a slower pace of life.

Each day they have access to a phone or internet, a Senior is at risk for scam targeting and the consequences that come with giving out any sensitive information over these two platforms.

Scams might come in the form of an email with a virus, a telemarketer calling to sell faulty medication, or a site that asks for personal information to obtain “free” medical devises.

There are several ways you, as a Senior, can be more aware of possible scams around you, and as the family member or friend of a Senior, you can can educate and watch out for Seniors in your life to help protect them from falling victim to costly scams.

  1. Monitor your accounts

    • For anyone who has credit cards, bank or investment accounts, it’s important to monitor and balance your accounts often. This ensures that any unknown account activity or fraudulent charges can be noticed and taken care of quickly.
  2. Check your Medicare Summary Notice

    • Review your MSN to be sure that any devices or services that are listed have actually been received by them. If you are receiving Medicare assistance, this notice will have a comprehensive list of any device that was received by you, the patient. Any items on the list that have not been received by you could indicate identity theft or a discrepancy that needs to be settled.
  3. Do not give out your personal information or Medicare number

    • Currently, one way scammers are targeting Medicare patients is by offering free medical equipment for specific ailments. By giving your information over the phone or internet, a scammer can use your Medicare number and information to steal your identity. Entering personal information such as birthdays, social security numbers, addresses, or even phone numbers can give a scam artist another piece of the puzzle that is your identity.
  4. Beware of online “relationships”

    • Seniors that develop online relationships are also at a higher risk of being taken advantage of financially. Online scammers target Seniors who browse the web looking for online connections. Many Seniors have fallen victim to online relationships that provide companionship and belonging to them in a lonely season, but the Senior is all the while manipulated for gifts or money sent to the virtual partner.
  5. Watch out for family “impostors”

    • Another tactic being used by scam artists is posing as a family member to get quick cash from elderly personnel. Make sure to verify that a person is really your relative before sending any sort of financial assistance. Some “tells” of this method include asking for a bank wire or gift card as payment, and having a more “urgent” request for money that can’t wait.
  6. Be slow to purchase services from a door-to-door salesman

    • It might seem like your “neighbor’s contractor” is kindly offering to fix your roof damage for a great price, but it could also be a scam artist at your door. Make sure you do your research on any service provider you hire, and be wary when it seems that a stranger is willing to “do you a favor.”

If you fall victim to a financial scam, or suspect that you were approached by one, register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1) or contact your local law enforcement.

For Medicare related fraud, you can contact your state’s Senior Medicare Patrol (https://www.smpresource.org/Content/You-Can-Help/Report-Fraud.aspx)

When it comes to scams, we can all find ourselves trusting the wrong people or putting too much information in a not-so-secure website. But by practicing these simple safeguards, there is less of a chance that you, as a valued Senior Citizen, will fall victim to a scam.

Sources:

https://caregiver.com/articles/prevent-senior-scams/

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/elder-abuse-financial-scams-against-29822.html

4 Tips to Stop Scammers Now

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