Senior Scams and How to Avoid Them

These days you would be hard-pressed to find a group of people who are safe from scams.   Whether it’s through complicated computer hacking, email phishing, or deceptive calls, there is an ongoing threat that someone is going to try to steal from you or your financial institutions.  Seniors can be a preferred target for some scammers.  The best way to keep from falling victim to their tactics is to be aware of them.  Here are some common senior scams and how to avoid them:

Health Insurance and Medicare Scams 

One way in which scammers may try to steal from seniors is by pretending to be a representative from a health insurance company.  The individual may contact the victim and offer low-cost supplemental or long-term care coverage and try to get personal information and payment for their bogus plan.   Another way is by impersonating a Medicare employee and calling the victim claiming they need to pay a fee or give their social security information to them to obtain or keep their services.  Medicare premium payment and information rules are very specific, and you should be wary of anyone who calls you making this request.  In either case, don’t give information about yourself or finances over the phone to any unsolicited callers.

Email/Phishing Scams

It is not uncommon for seniors to receive an email which appears to legitimately be from their banking institution, credit card company or even the IRS asking them to “update” or “verify” their information through a hyperlink.  Once you click on the link, it can take you to another seemingly valid website where you will be prompted to give personal or financial data. These are almost always fake.  If you get this kind of email, contact the alleged sender of the email directly to ask about the communication.

Internet Download Scams

Scammers also try to trick individuals who started using the internet later in life, by sending pop-ups which look like anti-virus software or other important program updates.  Once the user clicks on and downloads these programs, they can get whatever information they want off of your computer through a virus.

Telemarketing Scams

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), senior telemarketing fraud schemes are prevalent. The FBI warns that getting a pressured call from anyone offering to sell you something which is a “limited time offer” without giving you time to look into the company and product is likely to be a scam.  The agency advises that you not make purchases over the phone from any company you do not know or have reason to trust.  Another common phone scam is a call from the IRS telling you that you owe back taxes and that you must pay them right away to avoid liens on your property or even jail.  Treat any phone call from the IRS as a scam.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight when it comes to people trying to defraud others through schemes.  However, by being careful with your information and aware of some of the typical tactics, you can help protect your interest and avoid being scammed. Our office has experience assisting clients in protecting their assets and can help.  Contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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