With the vast amount of information that is becoming available it isn’t always easy to know what to believe. A growing number of scammers are specifically targeting seniors based on their assumption that you will be more vulnerable to falling for them than tech-savvy younger adults. Here are five of the most common senior scams to watch for, as well as tips for avoiding them and fixing the situation if you do experience them!
Navigating your health insurance policy can be challenging for anyone, and scammers tend to target seniors and other groups who they believe are less likely to understand the benefits and requirements of Medicare. However, it’s important to know that every US citizen or permanent resident qualifies for Medicare. Be cautious when communicating with individuals that may be pretending to be Medicare representatives or trying to provide bogus services in order to benefit from your policy.
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Taking expensive prescription drugs may lead you to search online for more affordable alternatives, but it’s important to make sure that you are buying your medications from a reputable source. The FDA investigates approximately twenty major counterfeit prescription drug scams each year. At best, taking these fake medications will cause you to lose money while doing nothing to help you, and many contain unsafe ingredients that can have an even more harmful impact on your health.
Funeral and Cemetery Scams
You want your family to be in the best possible situation when organizing your funeral, and being aware of potential scams that may come up when they are the most vulnerable to not thinking clearly about them can help them avoid the added stress of losing money. Scammers may identify families to target with calls claiming you owed false debts that need to be paid by reading obituaries, and dishonest funeral directors may try to sell services that are not needed.
Homeowner Reverse Mortgage Scams
If you’re not sure how much longer you want to own your home and are considering a reverse mortgage, be sure any communication you receive comes from the correct company. Scammers can send fraudulent letters that appear to be legitimate that give you a fabricated assessed value for your home and pressure you to take out equity to have repairs made to increase this value. Be vigilant when considering such repairs, as these may benefit companies much more than they will benefit you.
Robocalls have become much more common than they used to be in recent years, especially if you have a cell phone. These “callers,” which are often not even real people, attempt to gain access to your personal information using made-up:
- low interest rates
- free vacations
- card services
- other phony business concerns
Know that legitimate callers will leave a message with their contact information and will not ask you outright for credit card, banking, or other sensitive information, and never give these details to suspicious callers.
What to Do if You’ve Been Scammed
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles a variety of types of scam complaints. You can contact the FTC online or by phone at 1-877-382-4357 to report a scam as soon as you realize it happened to minimize the potential damage to yourself and other targets of the scammer. Be sure to have your banking information available, as well as a description of what the scammer wanted from you and any of his or her contact information you have.