Avoiding Senior Scams

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Unfortunately, there are many scams these days and some of these scams are geared towards seniors.  A recent study by MetLife found that financial exploitation costs senior citizens as much as $2.6 billion per year. In fact, senior scams are quite common – as many as 1 in 5 seniors have been victims of rip-offs. 

Common Senior Scams

There are many different scams that affect older individuals.  It is helpful to learn about some of these scams so you will recognize them if they happen to you.  Some of the latest things to be on the lookout for include:

  • Charity Scams – always check out a charity before you agree to donate. While most charities are legitimate some people use fraudulent charities to get money.
  • Identity Theft – Unfortunately identity theft is a real issue today. Don’t give out your personal information or bank information to anyone unless you are certain it is legitimate. Never give any information over the phone.  Instead, call the company back to provide information to make sure that it is real.
  • Relative in Distress – A new scam is to call you to tell you that a relative is in jail or in trouble and you need to help. The caller usually tells you that you need to wire a sum of money quickly in order to resolve the issue. Don’t believe this type of call and always check with the relative before you react.
  • Sweepstakes Scams – Everyone wants to be a winner so it’s no surprise that some popular scams include informing you that you’ve won a prize. Be careful not to provide personal information. Also, a real prize won’t require you to send any money first, as is often requested as part of this fraud.
  • Local Scams – If someone comes to your door, always be suspicious. Recent scams have occurred where someone forces their way into your home or takes your attention while another person steals from your home. In related scams, beware of people who want to provide repair services. They may ask for money in advance and then never come back.

Tips for Avoiding Scams

It is best to use common sense when dealing with every situation.  If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  When you are forced to make an immediate decision you should abort the opportunity completely.  A legitimate offer will allow you to spend some time to make a decision.  Always keep your account numbers, passwords, and codes private.  Never give out any information until you are certain that the request is real.  When discarding old bills, receipts, and junk mail use a shredder to be sure that your information is kept secure.   If you receive a phone call from an unlikely source ask for their phone number and tell them that you will return their call.  This often puts an immediate end to the potential scam.  Add your name and phone number to the national “do not call” list so solicitors won’t call you.   Never go to the bank with anyone who says they need money.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam it is important to tell someone about it.  Let a relative know and call the police to report the situation.  Reporting the problem will help others avoid being victimized.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.