According to a recent study, 37% of seniors have experienced financial abuse. On average those seniors lose $36,000! And the actual number of victims and dollars stolen are most likely much higher. Why? Because seniors are reluctant to admit to and are less likely to report fraud to the authorities.
3 Types of Senior Financial Scams
Sadly financial scams are not new news. The National Council on Aging report 10 categories where seniors are specifically targeted. To help you protect your loved ones, here’s a recap of three types of the most current — and distressing — scams against seniors.
Medical Related Scams
Seniors comprise the largest segment of the population to use Medicare and other health insurance. Scammer pose as Medicare representatives to gain access to sensitive personal information to bill bogus claims. Similarly, counterfeit prescription drug scams lure seniors with “better prices” via the Internet or mail order. Not only does this hurt a senior’s wallet, the drugs are counterfeit and unhealthy.
Funeral Planning Scams
Often seniors don’t want to be a burden on their families, especially after death. Pre-paying funeral or cremation services is big business. The average funeral costs between $8,000 to $10,000. Scammers comb the obituaries to take advantage of grieving spouses claiming the deceased owes them money. Disreputable funeral homes take advantage by adding unnecessary charges or upsell expensive burial caskets or other add-on services.
Financial scams against seniors come in all shapes and sizes, such as:
- Telemarketing and phone scams
- Fake accidents
- Charitable contributions to non-existent organizations
- Internet fraud and email/phishing scams
- Investment schemes
- Home repair scams
- Reverse mortgage schemes
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams
A healthy dose of skepticism and paranoia is your first defense against these kind of financial scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I recommend you familiarize yourself with the different ploys scammers use and be on alert. Educate the senior in your life in a way that keeps them safe but doesn’t unnecessarily scare them. Having them use a simple phrase like “before I make any kind of decision involving money, I must talk to my [insert blank]”. If they’ve been a victim of fraud, institute safeguards such as having a family member or professional routinely review their accounts for unauthorized activity.
A Growing Problem
It’s not just the wealthy seniors who are victims. Scammers take advantage of the fact that most seniors are reluctant to report fraud because they’re embarrassed or don’t know how. If you suspect fraud, alert the law enforcement immediately.
If you need supporting with monitoring and managing your loved one’s financial life, Fiscally Fit is here to help you.