Senior scams are too common
A terrible fact is that seniors get scammed out of $36 billion each year. Even worse, most of this money can never be recovered. Fraudsters are ruining lives by stealing hard-earned savings.
Being aware of popular senior scams helps you protect your older adult from losing money to thieves. Since stolen money isn’t likely to be recovered, the key is to shut down the scams before they can do serious damage.
We found great advice for preventing senior fraud from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). We summarized their tips about 3 common senior scams and how to protect against them.
Talk with your older adult about these scams and let them know about the warning signs. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so emphasize that they’re not being rude for refusing to speak with a potential scammer.
3 common scams used to fleece seniors
1. Telemarketing fraud
People who are 60 or older, especially women living alone, are popular targets for telemarketing fraud.
Scams usually involve free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health products, or cheap vacations. Prevention is essential because it’s very difficult to get any money back if your senior gets cheated over the phone.
Beware of these types of phrases:
- You don’t want to miss out on this high-profit, no-risk offer that expires soon.
- You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize, but you have to first pay a small postage and handling fee.
- To get the special offer, you’ll need to send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.
If your older adult hears any of this, they should feel justified in hanging up immediately – it’s never rude to hang up on crooks!
How seniors can avoid telemarketing scams:
- Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision. It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.
- Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay only after they’re delivered.
- Don’t pay for a free prize. Asking for advance payment to cover taxes is a violation of federal law.
- Before sending money, ask yourself: What guarantee do I really have that this person will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?
- Never send money or give out personal information like credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
- Before committing, discuss investments offered via telephone with a family member, trusted friend, or financial advisor.
- If you’ve been scammed before, be suspicious of anyone who calls and offers to help recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.
2. Funeral and cemetery fraud
Someone who is planning a funeral is usually in a vulnerable and emotional state. That’s why heartless thieves often target grieving older adults for funeral and cemetery scams.
How older adults avoid funeral and cemetery fraud:
- Have a friend or family member with you who can help with difficult decisions.
- Call and shop around before making a purchase. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed price lists over the telephone or in writing.
- Be aware that caskets aren’t required for direct cremations.
- Know that embalming is rarely required by state law and that embalming isn’tlegally required for direct cremations. It can increase the bill up to $3,000!
- Carefully read all contracts and agreements before signing. Make sure all your requirements are in writing and that you understand every fee.
- Make sure you understand all cancellation and refund terms and your options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
3. Fraudulent anti-aging and miracle cure products
Seniors, especially those with chronic health conditions, can get easily sucked in by the promise of miraculous health cures.
What’s worse, nobody knows what’s actually in those products so they could actually be harmful to health! It’s important to find out if a product is legitimate and high-quality before spending hard-earned money or having negative side effects.
How seniors avoid fraud with anti-aging products:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious of secret formulas or miracle breakthroughs.
- Always consult the doctor before taking any dietary or nutritional supplement. It could react with your existing medication.
- Know that testimonials and celebrity endorsements are often misleading and don’t mean the product is actually good.
- Be wary of products that claim to cure a wide variety of illnesses that aren’t related, especially serious illnesses.
- Be very suspicious of products that are supposed to have no side effects.
- Research a product thoroughly before buying it. Call the Better Business Bureauor U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to find out if people have complained about the product.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team