Fraudsters often set their sights on victims with the least ability to protect themselves. Seniors have become prime targets in recent years. Although scams come in all shapes and sizes, and new ones are developed all the time, here are five of the most commonly perpetrated against seniors, in reverse order:
5. Homeowner and Reverse Mortgage Scams
In a recent scam perpetrated in California, homeowners were solicited by scammers holding themselves out as governmental agencies, offering reduced property tax burdens by lowering property tax assessments in exchange for hundreds of dollars in fees, when such services were already offered for free by local tax assessors’ offices. Related scams, which play on the popularity of reverse mortgages within the older community, involve offers of money or free property elsewhere in exchange for title to the target’s home.
4. Funeral/Burial Scams
The FBI has actually begun warning about several types of scams being perpetrated upon widows and widowers. Once such scam involves fraudsters researching local obituaries and showing up at funeral services claiming to be owed an unpaid debt by the deceased. Another type of scam involves funeral directors themselves, who in several instances have attempted to overcharge families of decedents for caskets or other unnecessary goods and services.
3. Investment Scams
Even after reaching retirement age, many seniors continue to actively manage their nest eggs in an effort to ensure retirements funds will last. Given this fact, and the advent and ease of self-managing one’s retirement funds, seniors are increasingly being targeted by financial scams. Notably, seniors have been among the victims of Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme and others like it in recent years.
2. Internet Scams
Closely related to investment scams are online scams that have begun to target seniors. More and more seniors are taking to the internet, but most are still in the dark when it comes using technology. And as seniors begin to use online money-management tools, online investment scams are increasingly aiming at seniors. Seniors are also being targeted with email scams and other tools geared toward stealing financial information. Most seniors, for example, are fairly new to email and have little knowledge of adequate computer and email security, making seniors prime targets for email-laden viruses that can infiltrate a computer and lead to identity theft or compromised financial information (account login information, etc).
1. Medicare/Health Insurance Scams
Maybe the most common type of scam perpetrated upon seniors involves fraudsters posing as representatives of Medicare or health insurance companies in order to get seniors to divulge personal information, or providing fake services at makeshift clinics and obtaining seniors’ personal information. Then, the fraudsters will use the seniors’ personal information to bill Medicare or health insurance companies and abscond with the money.