Protecting Your Loved Ones from Scams that Target Senior Citizens

There are many fraudulent schemes out there that target senior citizens, especially those who are planning for retirement. If you are caring for a senior citizen, keep a close eye on their mail, phone calls, and emails, as these are often used by scammers to prey on the elderly. This guide explains some of the most common scams targeting senior citizens and offers tips on how to avoid them.

Online Scams

Scammers frequently target elderly people on the internet. Beware of emails that make financial promises in exchange for personal information. The “Nigerian Prince” is a classic email scheme. The “Prince” emails you saying he needs your help getting money into the United States. In exchange for your help, he’ll send you a large sum of money. All you have to do is give him your social security number and bank account information. Don’t do it! This is obviously a con to steal your money. A good rule of thumb is to ignore emails from people you don’t know, and never provide personal or financial information to anyone on the internet.

Other online tactics include fake pop-up ads claiming your computer has a virus. They will urge you to enter your credit card information to fix it, while, in reality, you don’t actually have a virus. Many times, the criminals will use logos of well-known companies, such as Apple and Microsoft, to try to establish credibility and trust. A general rule is to ignore pop-ups. Instead, close all windows, and restart your computer if you need to. If you continue to see pop-ups or warnings that your computer is contaminated with a virus, consult a reputable tech company, such as Geek Squad or the Apple Genius Bar. Never trust an online ad!

Prescription Drug Scams

With the rising cost of prescription drugs, many senior citizens turn to the internet to find more affordable prices. The problem is that many scammers are aware of this and will target unsuspecting seniors.

In this scam, the criminal sets up a fake pharmacy website. It looks like a legitimate site, but you could end up receiving the wrong medication or nothing at all. How do you avoid this? Ask your doctor to recommend a reputable online pharmacy. It’s also important to know that any legitimate pharmacy website will require a prescription. If a site does not ask you for a prescription, exit that site immediately.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

Reverse mortgages were created to help senior citizens gain access to cash through the equity in their home, but they are not always the best option for all.

A common scheme is when a lender convinces an elderly person to purchase a reverse mortgage in order to manipulate them into purchasing additional unneeded products from that company, such as annuities and insurance, using the equity. If you receive reverse mortgage advertisements in the mail, do not respond to them. If you think a reverse mortgage is right for you, consult a trusted and licensed financial advisor, and never sign anything that you do not fully understand.

Funeral Scams

Criminals are known to target elderly people who have recently lost a loved one. They know it is a vulnerable time, and try to take advantage of those who are grieving. Criminals will call the surviving relatives and insist that the deceased person had an outstanding debt. They will try to pressure you into paying them, even though you do not owe any money.

Price gauging at funeral homes is another common scheme that targets surviving spouses. It is important to shop around and get prices from multiple funeral homes in order to ensure that you are not being over-charged.

As technology evolves, the methods in which scammers target senior citizens are sure to become more sophisticated and difficult to detect. Protect your loved ones from being defrauded by making sure they follow these rules:

·         Always get a second opinion on unfamiliar services and products.

·         Never give personal information to strangers.

·         Never sign anything you do not understand.

If you believe that you or your loved one have already become the victim of such a crime, report your case to the FBI here.  

If you are aware of any scams in or around Denver that are targeting seniors or if you require in-home nursing care for the senior citizen in your life, please contact us today.

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