Top Senior Citizen scams basically take advantage of the age related factors commonly affecting older citizens.Failing memory, poor eyesight, few family members, and poor health make them extremely vulnerable to younger, slick talking crooks.
The Top Senior Citizen Scams Include:
- Identity Theft.
- Health Care and Health Insurance Fraud.
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.
- Fake Anti-Aging Products.
- Funeral Expenses and Burial Fraud.
- Fraudulent Telemarketing, Internet, and Investment Scams.
- Reverse Mortgage Frauds.
Identity Theft in seniors is easier because of the amount of information they are required to give out. Through power of attorney, Medicare card numbers,and social security numbers, are needed for their stay in hospitals and nursing homes. This is exposing their identity daily.
Senior citizens usually have a nest egg, own their own home and have good credit, so they are an attractive target for thieves.
Most older Americans were raised in a different time. People were treated with more respect. Everyone was expected to be polite.
It is harder for them to just hang up on the thieves, that was considered rude.
Cashing in on Senior Fears
Seniors are afraid of relatives finding out they got scammed. They fear being considered mentally incompetent and unable to take care of themselves.The family members would then consider placing them in a nursing home, and they would lose their freedom and sense of worth.
They have no idea where to report such crimes. Moreover, if they can’t remember well or see clearly, they make poor witnesses to any crime.
It can takes weeks or even months for older victims to figure out that they have been scammed. Often,after that length of time has past, memories of what the thief may have looked like have faded. Thieves know this and use it to their advantage.
With all the medical advances in America, seniors are susceptible to certain product scams. Products that would claim to be age fighting, or have the ability to enhance cognitive thinking, or virility are enticing.
It is no wonder that they would believe the product claims. America is a country that boasts of medical improvements that have increased everyone’s lifespan. So why not?
Health Care and Health Insurance Fraud
Fraudulent billing for unnecessary medical equipment, or performing fake tests create fraud. These are commonly preformed at shopping malls, or drug stores. Scammers use these test results to create Medicare fraud and other Health Insurance scams.
Another is by fraudulent bills for services that were never performed. Medical equipment manufactures also like to target seniors. They offer free equipment, then bill Medicare for a cost re-embursement. Thieves will fake signatures of doctors ordering unnecessary equipment or services.
Avoid Unnecessary Health Care and Health Insurance Fraud
- Do not accept or sign blank insurance forms.
- Never allow automatic billing for services.
- Ask what you out of pocket costs are going to be.
- Call your insurer to get an explanation of benefits.
- Do not deal with providers claiming you service or equipment is free.
- Only give Medicare Identification information to the actual provider of your services.
- Keep all records and doctors orders for any equipment.
- Report health care fraud to National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association or NACAA
Counterfeit Prescription Drug Scams
Seniors are always looking to save money, and pharmacy sites with the lowest prices are enticing.
But many use counterfeit look alike and generic pills made overseas, which may look similar, but are not.
The FDA warns against purchasing from online pharmacy’s that are not listing a verified seal of legitimacy, and based in the U.S. Here are a few tips to help avoid counterfeit prescription drug scams.
- Check the packaging carefully for any tampering and be sure the prescription numbers match your last purchase.
- Report anything that looks suspicious to your pharmacist or doctor.
- Be suspicious of any new side affects.
- Be sure online pharmacy’s have the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal.
- Cheap pills are cheap for a reason, and it could be that they are counterfeit.
- Report counterfeit pills to the Drug Enforcement Administration-DEA
Fake Anti-Aging Products Scams
Senior citizens are not pleased as their youth vanishes.Aging makes the wrinkles and sagging skin appear. That person in the mirror becomes someone they don’t recognize anymore. It is no wonder that products promising to restore that younger,more beautiful person,are a hard temptation to resist.Here are some guidelines:
- Be leery of any products making outrageous claims special secret ingredients or formulas.
- Find out the expectations of the product, what it will and won’t do for you.
- Check with consumers agency’s like the better business bureau for complaints on the product.
- Beware of “snake oils” or products that claim to cure everything.
- Do not buy products that claim to replace your doctor.
- You should always check with your doctor before taking any products or supplements.
- Always consider supplements carefully, they are not labeled prescription drugs and are checked under a different set of regulations that are not as strict as prescription drugs.
- You can report adverse event complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration– FDA
Funeral Costs and Burial Fraud
A difficult time does not need to be made more difficult, or put you into financial ruin to bury a loved one. Many times the funeral director adds high priced extras you don’t need. Sadly, they do this by taking advantage of the situation.Everybody wants to pamper their loved one, so they purchase extras that are unnecessary. This of course adds to the total costs.Some ideas to consider are:
- Always shop around to get enough information to make an informed decision. Take a friend along to ask their opinions, and make sure you get a list of all costs. It is also required by law.
- Casket vary in cost, so educate yourself and know what you want.
- Compare the funeral homes basic services, to their costs for additional services.
- Be aware that caskets and embalming are not required for cremations.
- Have all your wishes and agreements put into writing.
- Read and understand cancellation and portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
- Be sure you know exactly what you are getting before prepaying for any services.
- Carefully think about your wishes. Do not be pressured into someone else’s wishes.
- Complaints are investigated by the Funeral Directors Board in your state.
- Fraud complaints are investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Trade Commission.
Fraudulent Telemarketing, Internet, and Investment Scams
Telemarketers are not stupid. They realize that the elderly are basically home during the day. By understanding their fears and worries about financial security, salesmen exploit the fact they may be lonely. A simple phone call during the day,is sometimes welcome in a seniors home.They use these traits to their advantage to gain the emotional trust of elderly victims.
Using free prizes, like ship tours or vacations, and huge discount savings, they can lure in seniors. Then, convince them into believing their story and emptying their wallets and bank accounts.Visit my previous post to read more about telemarketing scams and how to avoid them.
The internet is used to scam everyone, including the elderly. Every telemarketer is aware that his scams will work online as well as on the phone. Sometimes,using an email, or fake websites, they promote the same age old scams with new twists. Phishing for your account numbers by identity theft is a common trick today. Here are some tips to keep in mind on the internet:
- Always call or send an email to a know good address to check things out before buying from an email solicitation.
- Check out other websites regarding anyone you are dealing with online.
- Be cautious with special offers, low prices, and pressure to send money today.
- Check warranties and return information.
- Use your credit card online for purchases. The charges can be disputed.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t believe offers of free prizes, or lotteries you won that you never entered.
- Some malware programs freeze your computer and demand payment for fines. Report the scam to IC3 division of the FBI. Do not send any payments to any emails that demand it.
Investment Scams-such as HYIP’s or Ponzi Schemes
Investment scams usually start with a program that offers high returns that are too good to be true. Investments are suspect when unusually high profits are gained quickly in a short period of time. These are known as High Yield Investment Programs or HYIP’s. Risky investments are quite often just another Ponzi scheme. You get paid by new investors money, period.
It works for awhile, till money stops coming in. The promise of fast high returns in days or weeks, is simply hype promoted by fraudulent securities people. Always check with the North American Securities Administrators Association or NASAA, to be sure you are investing in a legitimate investment. Here is a few tips on investing:
- Beware of high returns and short terms, daily or weekly.
- Be suspicious when you are given very few details about the investment.
- Do not invest if you are told to use an E-currency account-They are not licensed to transmit money.
- Protect yourself and check things out.
- Do your homework and do not blindly trust friends recommending investments.
- Stay away from international investments, they are impossible to get your money back.
- File complaints with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reverse Mortgage Scams
Reverse mortgages have increased in popularity over the last few years and have fueled an increase in the opportunities for fraud. The legitimate reverse mortgage is know as the home equity conversion mortgage or HECV. This is a loan on the equity in the home, that provides monthly income over a period on time.
The reverse mortgage scam steals the home from the unsuspecting senior citizen. Unscrupulous lenders often give loans that steal the legal rights from the senior citizens involved.
A foreclosure rescue is a common senior scam.The senior is sold a reverse mortgage to stay out of foreclosure. Then later, they are then told they don’t qualify and need a conventional mortgage. The crook then transfers the property to himself, stealing the home.
These suggestions may help keep you out of trouble.
- Beware of all reverse mortgage advertisements that you did not contact yourself.
- If someone tells you that you can own a home with no down payment. Don’t believe it.
- Make sure you understand completely what you are signing.
- Don’t accept any payments for property that you don’t own.
- Shop for a reverse mortgage broker yourself. Ask plenty of questions and check them out.
- Check the Housing and Urban Development Website (HUD)for lenders approved by the Federal Housing Administration.
- You can file a complaint with HUD-Office of Inspector General.
Read More About Scams and Frauds Here
I hope you find this information useful and informative.If you have any questions, or comments please leave it below.
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