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We all have fallen prey to a bad deal or scam and it's embarrassing to have to admit when we've done it.  Some scams are easy to spot, but often the scammer has done their research and hasEmbarrased by Fraud become quite adept at fooling us.

The scams that target adults over 50 are financial for the most part.  Most of them do not get reported because the victims are embarrassed or are not even aware they have been scammed.  Over 90% of all reported abuse is committed by an older person's own family members.

Medicare/Health Insurance Scam

At the age of 65, every resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare.  This makes it easy for scam artists to scam this target-rich market out of their money.  Scammers pose as a Medicare representative to get personal information from their targets or they will provide fake services for seniors at makeshift mobile clinics.  They can then use the personal information the individuals provide to bill Medicare for services and pocket the money.

UPDATE:  Seniors are receiving calls from “agents” stating the new Medicare Cards being sent out have to be purchased.  There is no fee for the card and everyone with Medicare will be mailed a card between April 2018 and April 2019.  There is nothing for you to do if the Social Security Administration has your current address.

If you have been solicited by a possible Medicare scammer, report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), or submit a complaint online to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

With seniors seeking ways to save money, it is common for them to try and save on prescription drugs by searching the Internet for better deals.  Counterfeit drug scams are growing in popularity.  This scam is growing in popularity and the FDA is continually investigating these types of cases.

This type of scam is particularly dangerous in that these drugs may have unsafe substances and often are not the FDA approved drug.  They may end up being very harmful.

Final Expenses

Funeral & Cemetery Scams

With obituaries listed in local papers and online publications, scammers have a wealth of information available to them.  From listings of deceased, the next of kin, scammers can contact grieving family members by attending funeral services or research for address and phone number.  They often claim the departed family member owed them money and try to collect money from relatives to settle the fake account.

Another type of scam is perpetrated by funeral homes that try to increase profits by adding unnecessary charges to funeral home bills.  One way they can do this is by insisting that a casket is required when having a person cremated.  This simply is not true.  There are cardboard caskets for this purpose rather than an expensive burial casket.



Anti-Aging Products

While there are a number of these products that are helpful or beneficial, there are homeopathic and fake products that do nothing for a youthful appearance or healthier bodies.  There are renegade labs creating versions of real products.  Using the base ingredients of the actual products, but manufacturing with other lesser ingredients and manufacturing methods.  Some of these products have used toxic substances causing health problems beyond the problems they were originally treating.

Telemarketing and Phone Scams

Senior adults are shopping more over the phone and twice as likely to make a purchase over the phone than the younger demographics.  There is no paper trail and these cases are incredibly hard to trace and/or prosecute.  There are lists prepared and sold of senior adults that make phone purchases and these are sold and shared with other scammers looking for targets.

Internet Fraud

With pop-up browser windows and fake emails that appear to be from companies they have accounts with, seniors are no less likely to end up being a victim of fraud from IRS, State agencies, Utilities, etc.  Seniors often receive phone calls from people claiming to be employees of the IRS.  They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers.  They state they are calling about unpaid taxes, late taxes, etc.  They even threaten arrest and fines if you don't provide them with credit card information to pay a late bill.  Just tell them you are calling the IRS to verify the information and will pay them directly when you call them.  Hang up.

Scammers have become professionals at copying websites and using official-looking logos, etc. to obtain a victim's personal account information or other types of personal I.D. that allows identity fraud.  It can take years to recover from identity fraud and cost thousands of dollars beyond what was lost from bank accounts and the cost of fraudulent credit card charges.

Never respond to an email or phone call requesting updated account information.  Always go directly to the company's website to update information.

Investment Schemes

Planning for retirement and/or managing retirement accounts enables scammers access to the life savings of senior adults.  There have been well-known schemes that started as investmentNigerian Prince Scam schemes targeting seniors looking to increase their savings for retirement years.  Maybe you have received an email from someone claiming to need a partner to claim inheritance or needing to transfer money to the U.S. to protect it from their government.  They simply want your bank account info and your social security number to put money in your account.  Never … never … never … give out your account information or social security number over the phone or in an email.  You will wake up to drained accounts and identity fraud.

We can't blame the new technology on these cons.  Before there was even phones, Internet or email, a wealthy foreigner who needs help moving millions of dollars from his homeland promises a hefty percentage of this fortune as a reward for assisting him … first through letters, then with faxes, and now via e-mail.  The earliest form of this con, which dates to at least the 1920s, was known as ‘The Spanish Prisoner’ con. In that long-ago version, businessmen were contacted by someone trying to smuggle the scion of a wealthy family out of a prison in Spain. The family would shower those who helped secure the release of the boy with untold riches. Those who were suckered into this paid for one failed rescue attempt after another, with the fictitious prisoner suffering undescribable atrocities in his non-existent dungeon, always just one more bribe, one more scheme, one more try, to gain his release.

Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams

Most likely we have all had a call like this in the past, “Congratulations … you've won …!”  You may have even heard cheering crowds, horns, and whistles in the background.  They keep you going and get you excited about your winnings.  Then … You just need to make a payment of $________ to unlock your prize and have it certified to be sent to you.

You may receive a check to deposit in your account, but it will take a few days for the check to be rejected.  In the meantime, the scammers have deposited your payment and you have no prize.

What Do I Do If I've Been Scammed?

Report the Scam Immediately

Don't be embarrassed.  You aren't alone!  There are people who can help and doing nothing will only allow the scammers to go on to the next victim.

Call the local police or your bank if money has been stolen from your account.

Protect Yourself:

  1. Stay involved and don't become isolated!  Family violence can only occur behind closed doors.  Elder abuse is a very real type of domestic abuse.  Some seniors are isolated because they can't drive or walk around to get out in the community.  Some seniors develop phobias or become paranoid about being mugged.  There are ways to stay involved with a local senior center, your church or other civic organizations.
  2. Tell telemarketers and/or door-to-door salespeople they need to send you something in the mail.  Don't buy from anyone who calls or knocks on your door.  You need documentation for charitable giving and never write your credit card information on a form you are handing to a salesperson at the door.
  3. Destroy receipts that have your credit card information.  Paper shredders are inexpensive and may be the difference between safety and being a victim of identity theft.
  4. Sign up for Do-Not-Call lists to stop telemarketers from calling.  This may have to be done every few months as there are companies that share lists with sister companies.
  5. Use Direct Deposit for your benefit/payment checks.  This prevents checks from being stolen in the mail.
  6. Never give out your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

Again, I'll be adding blog posts about new warnings/alerts and updates continuously.  Be sure to join our newsletter and email list at the right to receive updates to your email inbox.

Please feel free to post your questions and comments below and I'll help in any way I can!


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