April 12 2019
Senior citizens are one of the top targets for a variety of different scams. They account for approximately 11 percent of the U.S. population, but they constitute 30 percent of all consumer fraud and 50 percent of all phone scam victims. In order to prevent becoming a victim to a senior targeted scam, know what kind of scams are out there and how to handle them.
The Grandparent Scam
How it works: The scammers call senior citizens, pretending to be a grandchild. In one version, the scammer explains that they are in financial trouble and need help. In another version, the scammer pretends that they are in police custody and need bail. All versions play upon the grandparent’s emotions. They plead for money to be sent Western Union or MoneyGram, and they beg the adult not to tell anyone.
How to avoid: Never send money unless you are 100 percent positive of who you are talking to. Verify that the caller is your grandchild by texting or calling their real phone number.
Prize-Winning Sweepstakes Scams
How it works: The scammer contacts the senior by phone, mail, or email to inform them that they have just won a prize. To claim this prize, the senior must pay a fee. The scammer then sends a fake check in the mail, and by the time it “bounces,” the senior has been tricked out of the fee.
How to avoid: Never give out financial information over the phone or email. Unless you have specifically entered a contest, be very skeptical.
Home Improvement Scams
How it works: Senior citizens receive phone calls, flyers, and door-to-door visits explaining that they need home improvement services. Many times it’s a new roof or new siding for their home. The scammer sets up a time to do the work, sometimes even starting the job, after the senior pays thousands of dollars. The “repair man” never finishes the job and never comes back.
How to avoid: Always make sure that anyone doing home repairs is professional. Check their credentials and verify that they are a legitimate company.
How it works: Senior citizens who qualify for Medicare are contacted by a scammer, who pretends to be a Medicare representative. There are a few different scams, but the “representative” might ask for a confirmation of the senior’s social security number, or a fee in order for benefits to continue.
How to avoid: Never give out personal information to anyone who you have not verified. Real Medicare representatives have your information on file, so ask questions to verify legitimacy.
If you think that you have been scammed, speak to a friend, a relative, or someone in your residential community for help. We have people on site who care about you, and anything that happens to you. It’s our pleasure to see that you have the peace of mind you deserve, no matter who tries to take it away through a scam.