Fraud against seniors is more prevalent than ever. The reason is that our seniors are very trusting and they want to think that the people that they come in contact with are there to help them. Unfortunately when you look at the world around us it is evident that we live in a different time than many of the elderly lived in for so long, and this is why they are so likely to fall for many scams out there today. There are dozens of different scams that are perpetuated against seniors.
Common Methods of Senior Fraud
One of the most common acts of fraud against seniors today is the Nigerian money offers. These are those emails where someone posing to have a lot of money that they need wired to another country contacts and elderly person. They tell the person that they just need them to put the money into their bank account for 24 hours and as a result they will give them 10% of millions of dollars for helping them. For a lot of seniors this sounds great, they will be able to pay off debts, go on trips, and even leave money to their families when they pass on. So, the elderly person will give the person on the other end of the email their bank account and it’s all downhill from there. Usually what happens is the bank account is cleaned out. If the scammer was able to get any other information credit card accounts may be opened, using the senior’s identification until they have run their reputation into the ground.
Another common fraud against seniors is something called credit card loss protection. Someone will call the senior posing as their bank or credit card company and tell them that they are selling them protection in the event that their credit card is stolen. The person posing as the company will tell them that if they lose their card or it is stolen that they will not be responsible for any of the charges. This sounds like a good idea, so the senior agrees and the individual assures them that the coverage is just $1 a month or a nominal fee such as this. They then ask the senior to verify the credit card number for them, and little does the senior know this is the beginning of the end. With the credit card information the scammer can begin purchasing things, running the seniors bill high and running their credit score into the ground.
Many seniors like to give back to the community in which they live, and scammers know this. As a result scammers will often call the elderly posing as a charity requesting donations. Many times the scammer uses a name of a charity that is very much like another charity, so the senior believes that they are giving to the same event or group that they give to every year. The senior will provide them with a credit card number over the phone and the rest is history! This is all about trust and preying on the good nature of so many seniors.
Protecting Yourself from Senior Fraud
The best thing you can do as a senior or anyone is to question everything. Do not simply assume that the person on the other end of the phone or email is who they say they are. Ask them about their company, where they are located, their licensing number, etc. When you do this and you are dealing with a scammer you may very well hear a click and a dial tone. Also don’t just give out your personal information or credit card information over the phone. If it claims to be your bank, they should have this number and you should not have to give them anything other than the last four digits of your card number and they’ll never ask for your social security number.
If it is anyone else asking for a donation or anything of this sort, ask them to send you something through the mail. This will allow you to ensure that the person that you are dealing with is who they say they are! It’s just important not to trust the other person on the phone and it is simply a good practice to assume that the person you are talking to is a scammer; if they are legit they will be able to prove it to you.