Each year, millions of seniors become victims of financial scams, and the problem appears to be worsening. The scams can hit seniors living in private homes, assisted living, and more. According to an article in Consumer Affairs on senior financial scams, older adults are being scammed out of $3 billion each year, with more than 3.5 million older adults falling victim to senior scams.
So, how can you keep your senior loved ones from being scammed? We’ve gathered some information about the most common senior scams, why these fraudsters target the elderly, and how you can protect your senior loved ones from being scammed. Let’s get started!
The Most Common Senior Scams
In this section, we’ll cover some of the most common senior scams. These can occur whether your loved ones live in assisted living in TX, eldercare facilities, or in their own homes. Scams come in a wide range of variations, including the following:
Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
The federal government passed a coronavirus relief and stimulus plan early in the pandemic. Of course, fraudsters saw this as an opportunity to line their own pockets with others’ money. Some stimulus check senior scams involved criminals posing as the IRS or another government agency. They would call seniors and ask for their personal information.
Some scammers asked for elders’ emails, phone numbers, and banking details. However, the IRS and other government agencies never call individuals and ask for their personal information. Even so, many trusting older people were scammed out of their money.
This scam involves a fraudster calling or emailing a grandparent posing as law enforcement or medical professionals. They claim to represent a family member (usually a grandchild) in some kind of trouble involving money.
Scammers may ask that the money be wired to pay for medical charges, legal fees, car repairs, and more.
Tech Support Scam
Senior scams sometimes also take the form of tech support services. For instance, scammers may claim to be calling from a legitimate tech company and say the older person owes them for tech support services. Another version of this scam involves fraudsters claiming the senior’s computer has a virus, and their device needs to be cleaned.
However, these are illegitimate claims made by scammers. They were only after the older adult’s money, private details, and more.
Fake Online Shopping Sites
Scammers also set up senior scams that involve fake online shopping sites. They may create a website that looks almost like a legitimate shopping site. However, the fake website is only there to gather personal details, including banking details.
When a senior enters their details into the website’s login and pays for an item they’re trying to buy; the website only gathers the person’s information. The scammers can then use this information to steal money from the senior’s bank account or use their credit card details to make purchases.
Deals on Prescriptions
Many seniors take prescription medications for medical conditions. Criminals also know this and sometimes offer discounted medications in senior scams. They might offer a sample of a drug but never send it, or they may send some medication that could be harmful. This scam is effective because most seniors seek ways to save money on their prescription medicines.
As you can see, there are many different scams that target the elderly. Scammers focus on older people living in eldercare facilities, assisted living, or private housing. It’s a widespread problem that will worsen in the coming years.
So, how can you protect your senior loved one from being scammed?
Why Are Senior Scams So Prevalent?
Some seniors fall victim to senior scams each year. There are several reasons for this. For one, many seniors are trusting and may be lonely. So, they communicate with people they don’t know and may be too willing to share private information.
Another issue is that many seniors have cognitive problems that affect their ability to reason and as well as their judgment. These people are much more likely to fall for scams.
These are only a couple of the reasons that make older adults a more likely target of scams.
How to Protect Your Loved One from Senior Scams
Whether your senior loved one lives in their own home, in assisted living or a retirement community, there are some things you can do to protect them from scams.
1. Allow One or Two Trusted People to Handle Finances
Many seniors have their adult children handle their finances. In some cases, they may also set up a professional financial advisor to manage their personal finances. This is a great way to protect a senior from scams.
If your loved one has appointed someone to handle their finances, only this person and a financial advisor should be allowed to make decisions on your loved one’s behalf. This person (or persons) should monitor all transactions, and your senior loved one should be encouraged to discuss major purchases and payments through these trusted individuals and no one else.
2. Never Give Out Personal Details
Your loved one should also be instructed never to give out their personal details to anyone (except those managing their finances). This includes their PINs, social security number, bank account numbers, Medicare information, or credit card details.
In addition, they should be advised never to share these personal details via email or to throw any documents away that include personal information. It’s best to buy a shredder and ensure these documents are finely shredded to protect your loved one from senior scams.
3. Check in Regularly
If you’re in charge of your loved one’s banking, be sure to check in with them regularly. Discuss transactions and track them, including bills, emails, and more. This way, you learn what’s typical for your senior’s account and what could be abnormal activity.
4. Freeze Their Credit
If your loved one moves into eldercare or assisted living facility, it’s a good idea to consider freezing their credit file. This is especially beneficial if they no longer need to use their credit or request new credit.
Most states allow senior credit files to be frozen for free; however, it’s best to check this in advance to avoid surprise charges. Seniors can still use their credit, but they’re not able to apply for new credit.
One other thing to be aware of is that some retirement communities may require tenant screening. This may involve reviewing a credit report. In that case, it’s best to wait to freeze the credit file until after the review has been completed and approved.
Be sure to speak with your loved one about senior scams. It’s helpful to talk with them about these and other scams and how to avoid falling victim to them.
It’s also best to check in regularly to monitor your elderly loved one’s financial wellbeing. That way, you can spot scams when they happen and take steps to keep your senior loved one’s finances safe. To learn more about ways to support your senior loved one, read more today and share it with others!