Financial Scams – How They Affect the Elderly and How to Prevent Them
There are many financial scams that occur all the time. Some of them are targeted around tax time and others happen throughout the year. There are others that are targeted at elderly adults. This is because elderly adults are more vulnerable to these scams. They aren’t as familiar with technology and how things work, so they would be more likely to give out their information.
Statistics Regarding Financial Scams Targeting the Elderly
After a life time of work in order to earn money, it is sad to see that during 2017, elderly adults lost $1.7 billion dollars due to financial scams. On average, each elderly adult lost around $34,200. This could wipe away someone’s life savings and cause additional damage to their bank account and credit cards, as well. According to research, people who are 80 and older suffer the most from these financial scams. However, even younger adults have lost money due to scams.
Most Common Financial Scams Targeting the Elderly
Whether you are getting older or you are helping to care for an elderly adult in your life, it is important to prevent financial scams from happening. While you can’t keep everyone in the world safe, you can take the proper precautions for yourself and your family. One of the first things to do is to learn about the most common financial scams targeting the elderly. These include the following:
- Medicare and health insurance scams (the person scamming will pose as a health insurance representative to gain access to the elderly adult’s personal information).
- Counterfeit prescription drugs (the person scamming will get money from the elderly adult and send them fake/placebo medications).
- Funeral or cemetery scams (the person scamming will call a relative of the deceased and say the deceased owed them money).
- Fake products for anti-aging (the person scamming will advertise anti-aging products and get money from elderly adults – even though the products don’t even work).
- Phone or telemarketing scams (there are many different scams like these but basically they all get the elderly adult to give them bank account or other personal information).
- Internet fraud (the person scamming will send elderly adults a virus through email or messages, so they can gain access to that person’s personal information and accounts).
- Investment scams (a range of pyramid schemes that get elderly adults to give money as an “investment”).
- Reverse mortgage scams (the person scamming will say they are with a mortgage company and offer the elderly adult a reverse mortgage, but really the scammer only takes the elderly adult’s information and doesn’t give them anything in return).
- Lottery or sweepstake scams (many scammers will place contests and sweepstakes online which many elderly adults fall into).
- Grandparent scam (the scammer will call the elderly adult to say their grandchild is hurt or in jail and needs money) .
These are some of the most common financial scams amongst elderly adults. Being able to recognize when a scam is happening could potentially save someone thousands of dollars.
Tips for Preventing and Avoiding Financial Scams
The good news is that there are ways to prevent and avoid financial scams from happening in the first place. Some of the things that can be done include the following:
- Learn how to spot fake emails or messages.
- Do an online search of the name or company that is reaching out.
- Don’t ever pay upfront costs in order to get something in return.
- Consider the payment method – wiring money is generally the option that scammers use because it can’t be traced as easily or at all in some cases.
- Hang up the phone if you get automated phone calls or don’t say anything when answering.
- Get free scam alerts from the federal government.
These are some of the best ways to prevent and avoid financial scams.
Recognizing Financial Scams
In addition to learning how to prevent a financial scam, everyone should also learn how to recognize financial scams. Some of the ways to recognize a scam that is targeting the elderly include the following:
- Don’t believe in phone calls or messages that say you have won something.
- If a phone call or message seems suspicious, it probably is.
- Spot companies that call with an odd-sounding name .
- If a company or person asks you to wire money, don’t do it.
- Don’t cash random cashier’s checks that you get in the mail.
- Don’t participate in random studies that are sent to you.
- If someone is asking you to invest in something right away and pressures you into it, it is probably a scam.
These are some of the ways that you can recognize a financial scam. If you are taking care of an elderly loved one, make sure they know how to spot a scam, as well.
Resources for Reporting Financial Scams
There are various resources that allow someone to report a financial scam. Some of these resources include the following:
- Report the scam to your local police department.
- Report the scam to your state’s consumer protection department.
- Report the scam to the federal government.
- Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Report the scam to the IRS or Social Security Office
Reporting scams is important. It could help others to know what is going on and what to be aware of, as well. In addition, it gives the government the information they need to follow-up and try to prosecute those who are scamming elderly adults and others, too.
There are so many different financial scams out there. Some of them target the elderly to get personal information out of them. Other scams will put viruses on their computers, so the scammer can gain access to personal information and accounts that way. It is important to know how to recognize and avoid financial scams. Whether you are getting older or you are helping to care for an elderly adult that needs to be protected, this information can help to keep people safe. In addition, knowing how to spot these scams can save thousands of dollars. If you do encounter a financial scam, be sure to report it.