Today’s seniors grew up in a different world. They grew up learning to trust people and hold on to their savings and wealth. Because of these values, seniors are now the targets of many scams. To ensure the seniors in your life stay safe from scams, read up on three common cons that are currently targeting the elderly.
Knocks on your door used to mean the neighbor kids were selling Girl Scout cookies or coming to mow the lawn. Now, a knock on your door could be a scam artist waiting to prey on an unprepared senior. Also known as the “gypsy scam,” scammers will come to your door asking to do repair work. They bring a few people with them, and while one person is negotiating the contract the others rifle through the home looking for valued possessions – including wedding rings.
“These people come from out of town,” said Officer Sloan, Rock Island’s Elderly Service Officer. “They look for seniors who might be living alone and target them for house repairs. They then take money and don’t complete the project.” Officer Sloan reminds seniors to never let anyone they don’t know in their home, to always hire a legitimate company to do repair work, and to always negotiate a signed contract before any work is done.
Health Care Fraud
All adults over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicare, which makes them a target for healthcare-related scams. Many times scam artists will call seniors posing as Medicare representatives to see if the person on the other line will give up their personal information, including social security numbers and bank accounts. Officer Sloan reminds everyone that Medicare and Medicaid will never call you and will never ask you for your full social security number. If you receive a call, hang up and call the company back directly to ensure you aren’t being scammed. Remember to never give out personal information over the phone!
Financial fraud is one of the most common types of scams as it can be carried out via phone, social networks, email, or mail. Brian Yaklich, Compliance Officer at Blackhawk Bank & Trust, warns seniors of lottery scams.
“Seniors will often receive a notification via mail or email that they’ve won the lottery in a foreign country. They’re asked to wire a payment up front for taxes then receive a lump sum from the lottery,” said Yaklich. If you receive a notification like this, remember that Americans cannot win a foreign lottery, and this is always a scam to have money sent to someone.
Another common financial scam that occurs via phone is what bankers and police call a distress scam. A con artist will call a senior, pretending to be their grandchild, and say that they are in jail or stuck in a foreign country and ask that money be wired to help them out.
“The scammers are hoping that you act and not think during these calls. When in doubt, slow down and ask some questions. Call your family to verify if it was them or not,” suggests Yaklich.
The best ways to stay safe from scams is to always be alert, ask questions, and think clearly. At Friendship Manor, we’re being proactive to keep our residents safe. Take a look at our activity calendar for potential sessions on keeping safe from scams and other activities at Friendship Manor!