Helping Your Loved One Avoid Scams

March 14, 2014

You’ve seen it on the news, read about it online and maybe it’s happened to the great-uncle of your friend’s husband’s business partner but the chances of it happening to your loved one? Slim to none, right?  Not quite.

With continuous advancements in online communicating, easy access to banking information through digital applications and the ability for scam artists to learn about their victims via social networking sites like Facebook, financial fraud is more prevalent than it’s ever been before. Senior citizens are the target market for these crimes because 1.) It’s assumed they have money saved, 2.) They’re more trusting than other age groups and 3.) They’ve proven to be a profitable market – seniors have sent hundreds of millions of dollars to scammers in recent years. All it takes is your loved one to receive an email from a “grandchild” claiming to need money, or a “telemarketer” calling requesting a charitable donation; that’s all it takes, are you sure your loved one would say no? We’re not either.

There are measures you can take to help prevent this from happening to your loved one and having a clear understanding of the most common scams is the first step.

Funeral Scams – Scammers often scan the obituaries and prey on the emotionally weak; specifically those who have recently lost a loved one. They’ll claim that the deceased was in-debt to them and it’s time for the widow to pay. It’s also important to be aware that this is a time for funeral directors to overcharge people; be very cautious when paying funeral related expenses

Health Care Fraud – In these types of scams perpetrators pose as Medicare reps claiming they need the senior’s personal information to confirm or update their plan.

Internet Fraud – Many seniors are still unsure how to utilize the internet which makes it a perfect place for scammers to lurk. It may be a pop-up requesting your loved one’s banking information to download virus-scanning software or an email asking them to update their info to receive a tax refund; the messages will most likely look professional and believable.

Grandparent Fraud – This one is often the most difficult for a senior to ignore because it pulls at their heartstrings. When a senior receives an email pleading for cash from a “grandchild” who’s either in legal trouble or physically hurt, how can they say no? Oftentimes the money is transferred without question and it’s only after the fact that they realize they’ve been scammed.

Con artists are very good at what they do and once a senior is scammed, it’s probable that it’ll happen again. Here are some signs that could indicate whether your loved one is being scammed:

    • Multiple magazine subscriptions
    • Numerous calls from strangers requesting charitable donations
    • A lot of mail related to freebies, contests or prizes
    • Trouble paying bills because of a lack of funds

If you find out that your loved one is involved in a financial scam, change their bank account and contact information right away and immediately report the fraudulent act.