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5 Fraud Prevention Tips for Seniors

Oct 06, 2022|Tips & Tricks

Senior fraud

Older adults often fall prey to savvy criminals who build trust and confidence in schemes that involve romance, sweepstakes, tech support and government impersonations, among others. Each year, the senior population racks up more than $3 billion in losses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

How common is elderly fraud? An estimated 1 in 20 older adults have suffered from monetary scams or frauds. Scams have a devastating effect on older adults who have fallen victim. This leaves them in a very vulnerable situation with little to no time to recover the loss.

What is an elderly fraud scheme? It’s important know about the most common financial scams that target seniors.

Health Insurance Scam

Every United States citizen over the age of 65 is eligible for Medicare. In these types of scams, a person posing as a health care representative gathers a senior’s personal information. The scammer then uses the collected information to bill Medicare and pocket the money.

Telemarketing or Phone Scams

This is the most common scam that preys on seniors. Older adults make twice as many purchases over the telephone compared to the national average. Since there is no face-to-face interaction or paper trail, it is extremely difficult to trace the origin of these calls.

Sometimes the buyer’s name is shared with similar scammers, leading to repeated defrauding of the same individual. The most common tactics used are ones where money is solicited for fake charities or natural disasters, or on the pretext of financial need for a person’s child or loved one being admitted to the hospital.

Internet Fraud

Since older adults have slowly adapted to technology and the Internet, they’ve become easy targets for automated Internet scams. Pop-ups that simulate virus-scanning software trick victims into downloading fake programs that allow scammers to access victims’ personal information from their computers, including passwords.

Email or phishing scam messages that appear to come from legitimate companies asking the users to update or verify their personal information is another example. Some emails appear to come from the IRS concerning tax refunds.

How can you protect yourself or a senior loved one from falling victim to a scam or fraud? Try to keep ahead of the fraudsters and stay up to date on various scams on fbi.gov, and remember these five preventative fraud tips:

  1. Prevent Telemarketing Calls – Place yourself on the National Do Not Call Registry, which gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls and how to report unwanted calls. 
  2. Don’t Be Rushed – Resist the pressure to act immediately. Scammers often use this as a tactic to lure victims to spring into action. It is best to call a family member, or even the police, if you feel as if you or your life is in danger. 
  3. Beware of Technology – Technology such as email and social media help seniors stay engaged with friends and family, but it is also used to scam seniors. Be sure all anti-virus software is up to date, make sure passwords are secure and encrypted, and be wary of distant or estranged relatives and friends who appear suddenly.
  4. Don’t Answer Personal Questions – Never share personally identifiable information such as bank account numbers, social security numbers, security questions or passwords with anyone except your care manager or power of attorney.
  5. Monitor Your Money – Lastly, keep a close watch on all your bank accounts for any suspicious activity. You will also want to monitor your credit report for any new credit cards and loans that you did not authorize.

Staying ahead of the issue will help prevent fraudulent attacks. Remember, if you question the legitimacy of the request or transaction, be sure to contact your loved ones or the local police to report it. 

How To Report a Scam

If you believe you or someone you know may have been a victim of elder fraud, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Seek a Trusted Partner

Senior living communities like Hawthorn offer programs to help seniors avoid being victims of scams. At Hawthorn Senior Living, we partner to be your fraud protection advocate. You can count on us to help answer any questions you may have. Contact a Hawthorn community near you today for more information about how we can support you or a loved one.

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