During the holidays, financial scams aimed at senior adults go on the rise. You’ve probably heard of phone scams seeking to take advantage of older adults, including the “grandparent scam” in which the perpetrators call seniors, pretend to be their beloved grandchildren who are in trouble, and then ask for thousands of dollars to be wired to them. These types of financial scams are just the beginning, so let’s explore some other scams aimed at seniors and the ways to keep your older family members safe from falling victim to them. The team at Stellar Transport offers these tips for staying safe through the holidays and beyond.
Why Seniors are Targeted?
Scammer believe senior adults have money in the bank and target them to gain access to it. Because financial scams are considered “low risk” by criminals, they are a popular tool of the trade. Older adults are vulnerable targets. Seniors who fall victim to these targeted scams often fail to report the crime out of embarrassment, and even when they do report scams, they are hard to prosecute. In addition to phone scams, Medicare and insurance scams, cemetery scams, and the grandparent scam, there are others, though less common, which are just as potentially devastating to senior adults.
Make the Seniors in Your Life Aware of These Scams
Many seniors who want to remain valued members of society – both socially and professionally – look for ways to look younger and more attractive. From fake homeopathic remedies to sham Botox treatments, older adults often fall victim to anti-aging scams which promise everything but do nothing in regard to maintaining a youthful appearance. In fact, some of these anti-aging scams, like the Botox scams, can result in detrimental health consequences.
Charity scams are often perpetrated as phone or internet scams asking for monetary gifts to bogus charities. While these scams often follow well publicized disasters – manmade or natural – they often target senior adults, playing on their sympathy to get donations.
Like fake charity schemes, investment scams are another way criminals target seniors. Older adults are often seeking ways to safeguard their funds and enjoy growth through the golden years. Investment scams may be disguised as pyramid schemes, complicated financial investments, or even displaced royalty seeking help in claiming an inheritance and are often used to take advantage of seniors.
Other popular schemes used successfully against senior adults are homeowner scams. These often-elaborate ruses seek out older homeowners offering tax relief, home repairs tied to equity, or reverse mortgages to gain access to many senior adult’s most valuable asset, their home.
Lottery schemes and sweepstakes scams are also successful schemes among criminals. The scammer announces to the targeted victim that he or she has won a sweepstakes or lottery prize, and to gain access to the winnings, he or she must pay a fee. Another form of this scam uses a check which can be deposited allowing the perpetrators to collect taxes and fees from the victim in the days before the “prize” check bounces.
Helping Your Beloved Seniors Stay Safe
You can help the senior adults in your life stay safe by keeping them aware of the latest scams being used by criminals against older adults. Stay in touch continually with the seniors in your life, reminding them not to provide any personal or financial information to unsolicited callers, internet, or social media contacts and to always do research before purchasing a product or making a donation. If you believe an elder family member has been a victim of a scam, get help from local authorities, their bank, and other helpful local resources like adult protective services, and provide them with the support they need throughout the ordeal.