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Published By Right at Home Boston and North on November 11, 2020

Most Common Financial Scam Targeting Seniors

Each year, millions of senior citizens fall victim to some sort of financial exploitation or scam. Perhaps the most common is fraudulent telemarketing, or phone scams. It is estimated that the elderly lose billions of dollars each year to scammers. With the senior population growing, elder fraud may too be a growing problem.

Right at Home Boston and North would like to provide you with tips you can use to protect yourself or your senior loved ones from elderly shams.

Why the Elderly?

Our senior loved ones are easy to talk to and polite. With their inviting essence, it is no wonder they are commonly targeted for fraud schemes. A sense of delicacy may leave seniors more vulnerable to trickery.

The elderly are more inclined to shop over the phone. With so many changes in technology at the turn of the century, seniors tend to feel more comfortable with a telephone rather than an iPad.

Most of the time, the elderly have:

  • Established a robust savings account
  • Have assets, such as a home, cars, etc.
  • Have good credit
  • May not know how to protect themselves from financial fraud

All of which makes them perfect candidates for elderly scamming. Another aspect to remember is that the elderly may be too ashamed or embarrassed to report fraud. Perhaps they may be worried that adult children will take away privileges to manage financial affairs, or they may be afraid authorities will get involved and withdraw those same privileges.

What To Look For

Because phone scams are incredibly hard to trace, it is a popular choice for criminals. Here are a few examples of telemarketing schemes to be on the lookout for:

  • Government impersonation scams – Criminals pose as government officials and threaten to prosecute senior victims unless they transfer or provide funds.
  • Charity scams – Money is solicited for fake charities. Con artists usually attempt these scams during or after a natural disaster or pandemic.
  • Fake-relative ploy – Criminals pose as a relative – usually a grandchild or late niece/nephew – and fabricate a sad story about being in desperate need of money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, fraudsters have managed to persuade our senior loved ones into mailing cash in envelopes using FedEx or UPS.

How To Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself from these incriminating acts is to be able to recognize scam attempts in the first place. A legitimate bill collector or government official will never threaten to arrest you for unpaid debt. It is important to remember that these scammers are professional con artists that create a sense of urgency over the phone to lure senior victims into action. If you feel there is an immediate danger to you or your family, you should hang up and dial 9-1-1.

Here are some other methods to protect yourself against financial scams:

  • Never give any personally-identifiable information over the phone, such as:
    • Social Security Number
    • Date of Birth
    • Bank Account Information
  • Talk to your phone company about how to reduce spam calls. Most carriers offer security apps to stop unwanted calls.
  • Do some research online with any contact information you have on hand, such as a phone number, name, email, etc. Many times other people have posted information about similar scamming situations.

How To Report a Scam

If you believe you or your senior loved one has been a victim of fraud, there are people who can help. You are not alone. Right at Home Boston and North would like to encourage you to report any fraudulent activity to the proper authorities.

Contact your local FBI field, or you can submit an electronic tip to the FBI directly. For more information on Adult Protective Services, contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 for services in your area.

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