According to a study conducted in 2016, 83% of American wealth is held by individuals 50 years or older making them the prime target for financial scammers. Financial scams are a multi-billion-dollar business that drains the elderly of their retirement funds and government benefits. Scammers do not discriminate against their victims based on race, age, or gender.
Unfortunately, elderly individuals tend to fall victim to financial scamming. This is due to a lack of knowledge regarding technology advancements, financial institutions, and trust. Elderly citizens tend to show more trust in strangers who are claiming to help them, especially when the induvial is lonely. A recent study shows that 10 % of senior citizens believe that they are at risk of financial scamming. 24% of senior citizens show concern to the topic financial scamming. Statistics from 2019 reveal that $37 billion dollars were appropriated from scamming senior citizens alone. If the financial scammers successfully took $37 billion dollars from the elderly population in 2019, how much will they be able to take from the elderly in 2020?
Different Types of Scamming
Unfortunately, due to advancements in technology, scammers have created clever ways to trick your loved one into handing over their savings. Financial scammers will attempt to sell counterfeit prescription drugs, lottery tickets, investment schemes, charity scams and many more.
The “grandparent scam” has been around for several years and tends to have a high rate of success. In this approach, the scammer calls an elderly person impersonating a grandchild who has been involved in an accident or legal trouble that requires money immediately. Over the years, scammers have become more advanced in their tactic of receiving the payment. They demand the elderly to stuff the cash in an envelope, then place the envelope between magazine pages before sending the money via mail.
Sweepstakes & Lottery Scam
This scam is quite simple, the scammer tells the individual they have won a sweepstakes or some other kind of elaborate prize. In order to receive or “unlock” the prize, the individual is required to make a payment. The scammer will send a fake check that the elderly person can deposit into their bank. The check will show up immediately, but take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected. During this time, the scammer will collect the “fees” or “taxes” from your loved one. Then days later come to find out the prize was fake the whole time. This type of scam using a fake check is considered fraud.
Social Security Spoofing Calls
This scam uses a threat and scare tactic method. The scammer will call, claiming the elderly person will face arrest or other legal charges, if they fail to call a certain number and pay. At times they will switch their role and say they want to help activate a suspended Social Security number requesting for the individuals personal information.
Counterfeit prescription drugs
More cases then not elderly people will go to the internet in search of cheaper drugs. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to unknowingly purchasing counterfeit drugs. This scam is extremely dangerous to the health of your loved ones. The elderly person is potentially buying drugs that contain no active ingredients, harmful ingredients, or even poisons. There are safe websites to buy drugs from, but also many fake websites. Somethings to look out for in a fake website include: no physical address, do not require a valid prescription, or has drastically low prices.
Elderly people are much more prone to getting scammed by phone than any other age. Elderly people make twice as many purchases over the phone then the national average, therefore they might not be fully aware of the risk. The scammers will pretend to be a charities or other natural disaster campaigns looking for donations.
How to Protect your Loved Ones from Scams
Before reading the tips below an easy first step is to sit down with your loved one and educate them on this matter. Let them know that elderly people are being targeted specifically. Don’t frighten them, but make sure they are well aware of this problem. They won’t be able to see the signs if they don’t even know this is a problem to begin with.
Suggested tips would be to sign your loved one up for a do not call list and take them off different mailing lists. Make sure to tell your loved one to never give their credit card, banking, Social Security or Medicare information over the phone. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent them from being stolen in the mail. Lastly stay involved in your loved ones’ life, check on them and call them often. Scams frequently happen when the loved one has been alone. If you are unable to give your loved one the 24 hour care they need Gracepoint Home Care would love to help! Visit our website for more information on the services we offer!