It is well-known that seniors are especially vulnerable to scam artists. The reasons are quite clear: seniors are often retired and available, having the time and interest to be responsive to a stranger’s proposition. They are also much more likely to talk on the phone or reply to an email that piques their interest than they would have been when they were younger and busy with work and raising a family.
Both telemarketing and internet schemes work well for criminals since they leave no paper trail. In most cases, scammers are seeking personal information so they can commit identity theft and further exploit their victims. One way to protect yourself from such awful crimes is to consult with a well-respected elder law attorney who knows a number of sound ways to protect your assets.
Types of Scams that Target the Elderly
There are far too many kinds of scams being perpetrated on the elderly. Being aware of them is the first step in preventing yourself or your loved one from being victimized. These scams are as ingenious as they are cruel. Sometimes all it takes is the click of a computer key for the scammer to install malware in your computer designed to steal your personal information.
Because the vast majority of older people are troubled by health concerns related to aging, they are more likely to be lured by schemes that promise them improved health or less expensive healthcare. This makes them more prone to be manipulated by scams involving:
- Phony Medicare representatives phishing for Social Security numbers
- Fraudulent healthcare providers who, in addition to billing government benefit programs for fake treatments may also sell counterfeit prescription drugs at “low” prices
- Fake weight-loss, skincare, and supplement products, sometimes offered as “free trials” that promise to rejuvenate customers
One type of funeral scam involves getting the name of a grieving loved one from an obituary, then tracking them down to extort money or valuables. Another involves dishonest funeral homes that add invalid charges to the bill.
Get Rich Quick Scams
Just like people of all ages, seniors look for ways to increase their savings to pay bills or accumulate greater wealth. Because many older people are living on a lower income than they did previously and want to leave a larger inheritance for their family, they may be more susceptible than younger individuals to:
- Investment scams that turn out to be pyramid schemes
- Lottery scams that require a deposit to receive their winnings
- Fake credit card scams that offer lower interest rates in exchange for a fee
- Scams that promise jobs as a way of obtaining Social Security numbers
- Vacation scams that require an immediate down payment to hold a spot
- Gift vouchers that require a click that will infect the user’s computer with malware
Scams that Tug at the Heartstrings
Scammers are well-aware that playing on the emotions of seniors (or anyone) can be financially rewarding. Therefore, there are many criminals who masquerade as lonely seniors who want affection and companionship. Of course, they really want cash. In these days of internet communication, it is all too easy to present oneself as wealthy, attractive, and caring when the opposite is true.
Other scammers wake older people in the middle of the night claiming to be their grandchildren by greeting them as “Grandma” or “Grandpa,” hoping to persuade them that their loved ones are in serious trouble (e.g. injured or under arrest) and need immediate financial assistance.
In a similar fashion, many fraudsters con seniors out of large amounts of money by pretending to be workers for a charitable organization. Sadly, the more compassionate the victim, the more likely they are to be exploited.
Scam artists are nothing if not opportunistic. As soon as the COVID pandemic began, scams arose throughout the country to milk those whose fear of the disease led them to purchase phony “prevention without vaccination kits,” fake vaccines, imitation diagnostic test kits, or “miracle cures.”
Contact Our Experienced Elder Care Attorneys
Several members of our law practice are Certified Elder Law Attorneys by the National Elder Law Foundation with the skill and knowledge to protect your assets from vicious scams that target the elderly. Contact us now to shield yourself and your loved ones.