Senior Scams: Protecting You and Your Loved Ones from Predators
You have worked hard all your life, saving your money so that your days in retirement are truly your golden years. It is appalling that there are people out there trying to take that away from you. But there are.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) calls financial scams targeting seniors the “crime of the 21st Century,” and the state of New Hampshire has an Assistant Attorney General dedicated to prosecuting cases of elder abuse, which includes financial exploitation.
Scammers prey on the emotional side of a senior – their grandchildren, health and sympathy – to gain access to their funds. Being aware of popular scams and recognizing common signs will help prevent you or a loved one from being an easy target.
The NCOA lists the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors as:
- Medicare/Health Insurance scams
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Funeral and cemetery scams
- Fraudulent anti-aging products
- Telemarketing/ phone scams
- Internet fraud
- Investment schemes
- Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
- The grandparent scam
Why are seniors targeted?
Seniors typically have excellent credit, making them attractive to scammers. They are seen as less computer savvy and easier targets for scammers. Seniors can also be hesitant to report being a victim of fraud due to embarrassment or lack of awareness, giving an already hard to track scammer time to move on and avoid being brought to justice.
Telltale signs of a scam
While some scams are more elaborate than others, almost all offer a “too good to be true” deal in return for a fee or personal information. Many scammers use local numbers to confuse you or send emails posing as a grandchild, anything to get you to let your guard down. Here are some caution flags to look out for:
- You don’t recognize the name of the person requesting money from you.
- Poor spelling or grammar in an email or ads making you an offer/asking for help.
- A request of payment to a foreign country.
What information should you never give away?
Limit the sharing of your social security number and credit card information to trusted and secure sources. If you are not sure, ask a family member or trusted friend, or even call the police. Never call back an unknown number, and know that the IRS will not contact you by phone or email, only by U.S. mail.
What if I am a victim of a scam?
Once a scammer has your personal information, they can open a credit card to purchase items charged to you, or get access to your bank accounts. Keep track of all bank statements and other activity that deals with your financials.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of a scam, it is important to take action quickly. Contact someone you know and trust, report it to the authorities and change your passwords. If you suspect you or a loved one is a victim of a scam, contact the Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services at 1-800-949-0470 or www.doj.nh.gov.