Whenever Attentive Home Care hears about senior scams, we're furious. Seniors are taken advantage of due to their supposed frailty, gullibility and generosity. Seniors minds are often not as clear as they once were, which can affect their decision-making, and scammers manipulate them into giving up their hard-earned and often scarce money. Also, seniors who were raised in the first half of the twentieth century were raised to be polite and trusting.
Scammers target seniors for these reasons. Here are 6 common scams that are still in use today to be aware of as an elderly person, a loved one of a senior or someone caring for an elderly person:
1. The Grandchild Scare Scam
If someone calls impersonating a grandchild in distress, who is claiming to be in trouble and needs monetary help. There are many variations of this scheme. Sometimes the "grandchild" claims he/she has been in a fight or injured and is at the hospital. Often but not always, the "grandchild" names a foreign location to explain the poor phone connection to hide their disguised voice. Sometimes the scammer will plead the grandparent to keep the call a secret because they don't want their "mother" to find out. Some scammers have even made use of social media to find names and personal information for a more believable story, but don't believe it!
2. The IRS Scam
In this scam, the senior is told that he/she owes back tax money and that the stated amount must be sent in immediately or the senior will face a lawsuit or be arrested. Before giving in to this scam, ask for verification that it is truly the IRS.
3. The Medical Scam
Some frauds will call offering prescription drugs at an unbeatable discount being sold online. After the payment, if they mail anything at all, they will deliver something other than the prescription as a cheap substitute. Other scams offer health services and then use any personal information that the senior divulges to bill Medicare and profit for themselves.
4. The Investment Scam
In this trick, a young and polite sounding financial advisor calls seniors or pays a personal visit to a senior. They behave respectfully and attentively, so that you would least expect them to be a scammer. They will try to sell or make you invest in worthless and unnecessary financial instruments, services or schemes.
5. The Funeral Scam
Perhaps the most cynical scam of them all is when a grieving surviving spouse who had recently lost their significant other is manipulated into buying funerals services or related goods at a higher, premium price. Although most funeral homes are respectable, seniors should set emotions aside or get help comparing prices as much as possible. It is important to note that there is no need to pay extra thousands of dollars to preserve the body underground. Save your money, take care of yourself and let nature take its course. It is illegal for funeral homes to sell unnecessary goods or services.
6. The Kind Thief Scam
Often passerby engage with seniors about their garden. If a passerby seems to be engaging in a long, unnecessary conversation, they could be distracting the senior while their partner-in-crime unbeknownst to the senior enters the house. The inside partner steals jewelry, cash, small electronics, credit cards and other valuable possessions. It is best to keep a close eye on your door at all times or get a passcode lock for the door, so that no one can enter, but the senior and their trusted friends and family.
Scammers and schemers who target seniors are the lowest of the low. Yet armed with this knowledge, seniors can call out more common scams and even develop a radar for any new types of scams that pop up in the community.