Financial scams targeting seniors are prevalent and costly. The FBI estimates that seniors lose more than $3 billion each year to fraudsters. Scammers go after the elderly because they believe older adults have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts and can be more easily persuaded.
Sadly, many of these scams can leave seniors homeless or penniless. Scammers will target both the wealthy and low-income individuals alike. Here are some of the most common scams to watch for:
Health Insurance Scams
Scammers pose as health service or medical equipment agencies, and they call seniors to get their Medicare or health insurance information. They bill the health insurance company for bogus charges or equipment that they never send.
Also, some crooked clinics may provide services that are unnecessary simply to bill for them. Seniors should always know why a test is being done and should call their insurer if they are suspicious about anything.
Some companies may make cold calls offering to sell drugs such as Xarelto or other common specialty medications taken by senior citizens for unusually low costs.
The medications may have low-quality substances or not have any active substances at all . Seniors should know how to identify their medications and should always buy from a reputable pharmacy.
Fake Anti-Aging Products
Companies with access to beauty supplies know that seniors are the most frequent buyers of anti-aging skin creams, facial gels and more. They may make products that contain little to no benefits.
Companies that offer products with retinol, argireline, collagen, and other anti-aging components should be reviewed carefully. Ask a doctor or dermatologist for recommendations about quality anti-aging products.
One scam involves someone reading obituaries and calling survivors of the deceased to say that the family member owed a bill and demanding immediate payment.
While it is against the law and the code of ethics for funeral directors, some may insist that purchasing a standard casket is necessary for a viewing even if there is a direct cremation afterward.
A cremation box, rental casket, or insert can be less expensive alternatives and worth discussing. Also, embalming is not required by law. However, some churches will not allow a viewing for a non-embalmed body in their building.
From fake unpaid bills to products that are never actually mailed after receiving payment, there is a wide array of phone scams targeting seniors.
Some scammers pose as charities asking for a donation, and others call to say that a family member was in an accident and needs money. Always verify a company's legitimacy by looking up the number and calling back before sending money.
Popup ads and unsolicited e-mail offers are common types of online fraud. The elderly may get ads for medical equipment, medications, vacations and much more.
Fraudsters are usually in other countries and are hard to catch. As a rule, never purchase anything that is offered without verifying the legitimacy of the seller or company first.
Reverse Mortgage Schemes
Scammers may present information from the county or local Assessor to look legitimate and offer a reassessment of the property to collect money in fees. Always call the County Assessor directly for questions about reassessments or current property value.
From people tricking confused elderly individuals into thinking that they are their grandchildren, to investment and lottery scams, there are also plenty of risks for seniors to be aware of. To learn more about scams and how to stay safe, click here for some thoughtful tips from the National Council on Aging. And as always, feel free to speak with us about concerns you may have at 781-289-7445.