50 years ago the internet and sophisticated telemarketer scams did not even exist. Because senior citizens didn’t grow up in a time of computers and internet technology, it’s easy for them to be taken in by common scams and con artists. While technology has changed things, some things never change. Elder financial abuse Tulsa is alive and well. Watch out for these seven common scams and when in doubt, contact a financial elder abuse attorney!
The Funeral Scam
Funeral arrangements, insurance and burial planning is something we all think about but for an elderly mother, grandfather or couple, it can be scary. Some cyber criminals will prey on them through funeral and cemetery scams. There are a few different approaches that scammers will use to try to defraud an elderly person.
First, a scammer might use obituaries or church news bulletins to gather information about a spouse or sibling that recently passed. They’d then use that information to pose as a creditor that she or he supposedly had a debt with and try to get money from the grieving family member. Already overcome with emotion, they might be tempted to pay off the individual to settle the matter once and for all.
There are also the actions of a disreputable funeral home. Overcharging for services, tacking unnecessary charges to the bill, or pressuring a grieving widow or widower into things they don’t really need are all examples of elder financial abuse. If you feel that this might’ve happened to you or to a loved one, it’s best to consult with an attorney in Jenks, OK who might be able to help you.
Social Security Scam
Another scam that’s particularly popular with cyber criminals is the social security scam. A caller, stating that they are a government employee, claims that if they do not get the victim’s social security number they may face legal action. These individuals may claim that they need to update their records with a new social security number for him or her. This scam is dangerous because the scammer will solicite an emotional response from their victim and pressure them into giving their full social security number over the phone. The Social Security Administration takes its responsibility to prevent fraud very seriously. It’s important to remember that the SSA will never ask for a senior citizen, or anyone else, to give their social security number over the phone nor will they make threats.
Be aware of how the supposed SSA representative is speaking, what they are requesting, and even though the number may appear to be a recognized one from Social Security, the number might’ve been “spoofed” by a cyber criminal. As technology evolves, so does the ability of cyber criminal misrepresent themselves across all forms of communication.
Medicare, Health Insurance and Prescriptions
Every senior citizen over 65 is eligible for Medicare in the United States. The Medicare scam can be as sophisticated as a bogus or excessive service at mobile clinics or as simple as a criminal misrepresenting themselves as a Medicare representative out to get personal information. Common sense strategies, such as avoiding giving out personal information, can help reduce this form of financial abuse.
Using prescription drug scams is another highly profitable scam for criminals. Along the same line as healthcare, scammers will take advantage of senior citizens online by offering a much needed prescription drug at a substantially lower price. As many elderly members of the population are challenged by finances, this is a very attractive option. But not only do senior citizens risk not getting a drug that is poor quality, it could be something else entirely that proves to be detrimental. It’s important to use reputable discount services that most often work with local pharmacies to find the cheapest, and safest, prescription drugs. Many financial abuse lawyers can provide more information on this, including discount drug cards.
Alexander Graham Bell likely didn’t intend for the telephone to be used to bombard people with useless calls and scams. But when it comes to telemarketers that’s what many people contend with. For the senior population, this opens them up to financial abuse when they are maliciously targeted. Many senior citizens spend more time at home than other groups. As such, they often order products over the phone. This makes for an attractive target for scammers that might call a regular customer and talk them into purchasing a product. But, that’s not the only way a telephone scammer might work.
Scammers might call claiming to be a charity that benefits a cause close to a senior citizen’s heart. The senior citizen, inclined to help animals, the poor, police or veterans, might provide a debit card number or banking information. There’s also the ‘pigeon drop’. This scam might have the con artist claiming to be someone from the victim’s past or someone else who has recently come across a large sum of money and they need a certain amount for it to be released from some fictitious hold at the bank. Some will even go as far as to have an accomplice represent some reputable person or company that can back their story up. These forms of elder financial abuse can be prevented by never providing any financial information over the phone unless it is to a trusted entity. Having a secondary bank account specifically for online and over the phone transaction is wise for those that frequently shop over the phone or online.
Reverse Mortgage Scams
Not all reverse mortgages are scams. As a matter of fact most of them aren’t and they may be the right option for some senior citizens that need a little extra cash. But, it’s important to be aware that some scammers see this as an opportunity to exploit a senior citizen. Even if the reverse mortgage is legitimate, some people, such as handymen, repair companies or even family, may pressure a senior citizen into getting one in order for them to profit from unnecessary services. It’s best to consult a local lawyer in Jenks OK about businesses that have been caught pressuring senior citizens into services.
Investing In a Scam
Most senior citizens, or those approaching their golden years, are thinking about investments and retirement. This makes a large population vulnerable to scam artists that will use everything from pyramid schemes to royalty in a foreign country to scam the victim . A good rule of thumb in this case to avoid elder financial abuse is to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There’s also the promise that you’ve won the lottery. This is attractive to pretty much any part of the population, but in these scams the victim has to pay various amounts to unlock their winnings. A similar scam is also when a company or sweepstakes sends a check after the victim pays taxes on the money. Everything seems fine for a few days until the check bounces and the thieves make off with the supposed taxes that the victim paid.
Lastly, and perhaps the most underhanded of scams, is pretending to be family. A con artist will call an elderly victim pretending to be a young relative, usually a grandchild, who is in urgent need of money. They may do a little research first to get the name of their grandchildren, or start off by innocently asking if the grandparent recognizes their voice. When they say yes and give a name, this allows the con artist to pretend to be that person. By using a money transfer service that is more lax on identification, they are able to have the money wired to them.
And, by the time anyone realizes that the senior citizen has been scammed, the con artist is long gone. This scam in particular is very devious because it not only preys on one’s pocketbook, but also their family members.