Protect Your Parent: Senior Scams You Need to Be Aware Of

It is an unfortunate fact, that today we are living in a time where people need to have their guard up for money scams. Today’s scams are often more complicated and high-tech than ever before, and the scammers do not always look like your average criminal. This means that anyone can be a victim of one of these crimes. However, seniors are particularly prone to falling prey. In fact, a Huffington Post article reports that scams targeting the elderly are costing seniors up to 12 times more than they were previously thought to cost. This is a scary number and we all hope no one we care about will be affected. If you are prepared and aware, you can protect your loved one from some of the most common scams. We’ve put together a list of a few of which you may wish to be aware.

  • Medical or Insurance Fraud – Most older adults are recipients of Medicare and potentially additional insurance policies. Sadly, there are doctors or individuals posing as doctors who will charge your loved one’s insurance for services that are not needed, and may not even be rendered. Racking up the bills to Medicare may not seem to have a direct effect on your loved one, but it does make rates rise for everyone and could potentially put your parent’s insurance policy at risk.
  • Funeral/Cemetery Plot Fraud – The thought of someone taking advantage of an individual who is planning for life’s most difficult moment is unthinkable. Sadly, it happens. Before your parent purchases or prepays for funeral expenses or a cemetery plot, make sure research is done to assure the legitimacy.
  • Telemarketing Fraud – When it comes to the topic of elder fraud, this may be one of the most common that people think about occurring. There are many warning signs; however, a good rule of thumb is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Encourage your parents or any loved ones to ask for information in writing before agreeing to anything that is promised by telephone. Additionally, information such as their social security number or credit card number should NEVER be given out unsolicited.
  • Internet Fraud – With more and more seniors becoming internet savvy, it makes sense that seniors are targeted online, too . Many of the same scams that can occur by phone occur on the internet. Free prizes are promised, or websites are set up to mimic real websites, encouraging an individual to input a password or other secure information. Avoiding Internet fraud is a difficult task, even for those who are very comfortable with the web. You may wish to encourage your parents or loved ones to only purchase items online from highly reliable websites or to avoid providing sensitive information online altogether.
  • Fake Checks for Payment – A very common scam that occurs online, offline and in person is a fake check scam. The simple version of the scam occurs when an individual is selling an item. A scammer may offer to pay a higher price for the item, by check or money order, and ask for “change.” Even if the bank seems to take the check, it WILL eventually bounce, leaving the individual who cashed it “on the hook” for the full amount. This can occur at a yard sale or if a loved one was selling something online through Craigslist or another sales site.

Unfortunately, these are only a few of the scams that exist. As soon as the authorities crack down on one scam, it seems like a new one has appeared to take its place. This is why it is so important that you or another trusted family member is vigilant about watching out for your parents and their finances. By taking just a bit of time each month to look over the details, you can find any discrepancies that might have been caused by a scam.