Besides watching for signs of elder abuse and neglect, family members need to keep an eye on the finances of older adults. Seniors are often the targets of scams since they are more trusting and polite than younger generations. Furthermore, scammers go to a lot of effort to make their schemes seem plausible. There are too many forms of financial fraud to name them all, but most can be categorized by the tricks they use. Here are four common scams that target seniors in 2019.
Healthcare Related Scams
It should come as no surprise that many scams that target the elderly use concerns about healthcare to trick people. Once a scammer gets access to personal information, they can use it for various ill deeds. For example, a perpetrator may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information which can be used to open bank accounts and access lines of credit. Fraudsters have also been known to use makeshift mobile clinics to bill Medicare for services they didn’t provide the patient and pocket the money. Another issue is counterfeit prescription drugs. It’s possible to find lower prices for some medication online, but it’s also an area where fake drug scams operate. These scams hurt people in multiple ways. It deprives seniors of the quality medical treatment they deserve, and they can be exposed to unsafe substances that harm their health. Healthcare-related financial abuse can happen at a managed care facility, such as a nursing home, through fraudulent Medicare billing. This kind of abuse is one of the things we fight against at the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A.
Funeral & Cemetery Scams
The death of a loved one is a traumatic and chaotic time for the family members left behind, and scammers will use this opportunity to steal money from seniors. Scammers have been known to read obituaries so they can target a grieving spouse. Criminals can extort money from surviving relatives by claiming the deceased owed them a debt. Sadly, disreputable funeral services may try to inflate their bill by adding unnecessary charges. Make sure to assist older family members while they’re handling finances after the death of a loved one. They are already distracted by grief and funerals can be expensive and complicated. Scammers rely on them being overwhelmed to accomplish their con. Be sure to ask questions and get assistance if something seems amiss.
Seniors are often the targets of telemarketing scams. The FBI suggests that older adults are more likely to be too polite to hang up on a telemarketer. The rise of internet phone calls made it harder to fight telemarketing. Worse still, seniors that fall for telemarketing schemes often find themselves on lists that are shared with other telemarketers, so they get defrauded on multiple occasions.
Telemarketing scams can take many forms. Knowing about the various types helps you and your family members see what’s happening when a scammer tries them. A “pigeon drop” scam involves a con artist that tricks someone into giving them access to their bank account to help them obtain a large sum, which they promise to split with the caller. To make the scam sound more believable, they often have second con artist who poses as a lawyer, banker or another third party who “verifies” the story. Another common telemarketing scam that targets seniors is the “fake accident ploy,” where the scammer gets the victim to send money under the pretext that a relative is in the hospital following an accident and the money is needed immediately. Fake charities are also known to use telemarketing to get money from seniors after a highly publicized disaster. All of these scams involve people making split decisions. Let older family members know about these scams and remind them to call someone else in the family before agreeing to a strange transaction.
Seniors may not be the most tech-savvy members of the family, but we’re at a point where most older adults have access to the internet. However, being online also makes seniors the targets of digital scammers from around the world. Many of the schemes are run by automated systems, that are waiting for someone to fall for one of their tricks. Many scams rely on security issues to trick users into acting immediately. A common scam involves pop-up browser advertisements that look like official system messages or virus scans. These messages can send people to fake tech support services or trick them into downloading viruses onto their computers. Seniors are also frequent targets of phishing schemes, where scammers trick people into giving away their account credentials by creating a webpage that looks like a commonly used service and sending a spam email that requests they visit the bogus link to verify their account. The best way to protect your family members from internet fraud is to install robust antivirus software that includes a firewall and email scan. These services will stop most forms of internet fraud before they can reach your family members.
There is no shortage of scams that target the elderly, and many of them may seem legitimate at first glance. Protecting the finances of older adults requires diligence. If you think your loved ones have been the victim of financial abuse because of the actions of a nursing home, the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. can help. Send us a message online if you have a question about a suspected case of elder abuse or neglect.