Scams towards anyone are horrible, but are especially horrendous when targeting vulnerable and aging seniors. To seniors living on a fixed budget, every penny counts, so it is important we help make everyone aware of the possible scams out there targeting seniors.
The perception is that only wealthy seniors are targeted for scams which is simply not true. Low to medium income older adults are also at risk for financial abuse. The most surprising (and scary) statistic is over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by someone’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
It is important to educate our loved ones on the possible scams and elder abuse out there. The more aware we are, the better we can protect our seniors and loved ones. Here are some of the most reported and common senior scams.
Medicare or Insurance Related Scams
Medicare is provided to every United States citizen or permanent resident over 65. It has been reported that scammers will pose as a Medicare representative to get seniors to give them their personal information, or they will provide fake services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and keep the money.
End of Life Scams
In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts. Illness and death of a loved one can bring out the most vulnerable side of anyone. It is critical during this time to watch over their grieving loved one and ensure they aren’t being taken advantage of.
The Dreaded Telemarketer
Telemarketers and direct phone calls are by far the most common types of scams out there. Telemarketers prey on seniors because they are perceived to be home, alone, and very lonely (which we know is not always the case). Telemarketing calls come in a variety of styles but here are a few of the most popular to be aware of:
‘The Pigeon Drop”
The scammer will call an individual and inform them that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second person is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger to help “negotiate” the deal and authenticate this transaction.
Typically, after large natural disasters, a scammer will reach out to individuals and ask for money to support fake charities.
The Grandparent Scam
Scammers will randomly call an older person with little or no research. They will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma/Grandpa, how are you? Do you know who this is?” With a full heart, the grandparent will be so delighted to hear their loved one’s voice. When the unsuspecting and gullible grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer immediately has established a fake identity.
This conversation will eventually lead to the grandchild asking for money for an unexpected financial issue (rent, car repairs, pay a friend back, etc.) They will ask for them to wire money via Western Union or MoneyGram. And of course, to cover all bases, the scammer will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me!”
While the total number of scams are endless and growing each day, it is important to remind our senior loved ones to always ask questions, or simply say no and call a trusted family member immediately to report the incident.
For Papa’s Sake caregivers are trained to watch out for these common scams and notify family members on these instances. If you are concerned about the safety of your senior loved ones, especially as it relates to their financial well-being, we can help keep an extra eye on the situation.