On average, a victim of elder financial abuse loses $120,000 per incident. Losing money or possessions to scams, fraud, and exploitation can be especially devastating to older adults, who may not be able to earn back what they’ve lost.
Criminals will go out of their way to scam the elderly. Below are common scams to watch out for:
The Fake Contractor Scam
Older adults often need extra help around the house and may hire someone to complete projects, However, never hire someone who just shows up at the door and don’t let them in or around your home for an inspection. Instead, if you need repair work, either use BBB.org to search for accredited businesses or ask friends and family for recommendations of people they have used. Make sure you never pay in full up front and know exactly what you are paying for too.
Emergency Help Requested Scam
This trick often begins with someone they are close to such as a grandchild, niece or nephew, or other young family member. Scammers use social media to gather personal information and details. Some even go to the extent of searching in trash cans and why it is still important to shred sensitive data. A phony child, family member or friend will often ask for help due to an emergency. The scammer will plead for financial assistance and specific directions on how to send it.
Medicare fraud has cost Americans billions of dollars and a large part of that is fraud around “durable medical equipment,” such as knee braces or walkers. Scammers call Medicare recipients and convince them into taking “free” medical items. Then, they bill Medicare for it. It is illegal to make unsolicited calls to consumers about durable medical equipment. The best way to deal with this type of solicitation is to just hang up.
These scammers often target older adults and often prey on groups such as religious organizations or another close-knit group, where members are trustworthy. Even a savvy investor can still fall victim to this scam. Con artists are masters of persuasion. Make sure your loved ones check with their financial advisor or talk to family members before making any investment decisions.
Internet and Digital Fraud
Older adult may be less comfortable with technology making them more vulnerable to phishing schemes and hacking. Links found in unsolicited emails or messages on social media can be dangerous. They may look official, but they will download malware and give scammers access to information. Help your loved ones understand not to click on links that come from unknown sources.
Romance scams are commonly targeted toward older adults. These scams can often take months to develop to the point where money is exchanged. A common romance scam involves charming the victim and then asking for money expenses that pull at the heartstrings, such as an emergency medical issue. Once the con artist receives money, they disappear.
For more information on protecting older adults from fraud and financial exploitation, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Category: Financial Literacy & Safety