Top Scams Affecting Senior Citizens

July 22, 2017 | By Lorenzo Mejia

One of the hottest growth industries is also illegal and deeply immoral: scams targeting seniors.   People who engage in these activities typically do so from overseas where they face no penalty, nor risk of imprisonment. Here are three of the most common scams targeting elders.

The Grandparent Scam

You get a call from somebody claiming to be your grandchild. They start by saying, “Grandpa, is that you?” And you might say, “Is that you, Michael?”   At that point, the relationship is established. “Michael” will say that he is in a predicament, typically out-of-state, and that he needs you to wire money for bail or to pay damages. Unfortunately, “Michael” is a scam artist, and you are out of thousands of dollars.

If this happens, verify that “Michael” really is your grandson. Ask him questions that only he could answer. Contact his parents or other family members to confirm the situation.

The Lottery and Sweepstakes Scam

You get a check in the mail with a letter saying that you have won a large amount of money. The letter instructs you to deposit the check and wire funds to cover fees, insurance and taxes. Unfortunately, the check you received is bogus.   The money you send is lost.

The key here is to avoid wiring money to someone whose identity you cannot verify.   If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

The Medical Alert Scam

You get a call from an individual who says they are with Medicare or another government office. They ask for private information like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or bank account numbers. They’ll have many reasons why they need this information, such as the issuance of a new card or correcting an error in your files.

Be aware that Medicare (and probably all companies or organizations that have a valid need for your personal information) will never call and ask you for personal data by phone.

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