Fraud Awareness for Seniors
March 4, 2013 by
Seniors are often the target of frauds and scams. A sad but true fact is that it seems like almost every day we hear stories about a con-artist perpetrating a fraud on a senior citizen. Many times these frauds rob seniors of their hard-earned money and valuable possessions. March is Fraud Awareness Month and to shed some light on the issue, The Aging Suite will be doing a special series highlighting scams that impact seniors and providing information on what seniors and their loved ones can do to prevent these scams from happening to them.
Every day we hear the news stories about a senior citizen being scammed out of their money or personal belongings. And while it’s difficult to understand the type of person who would ever scam a vulnerable senior, we don’t have to understand them to fight against them. Being aware of the types of scams frequented on seniors and remaining observant are all ways we can reduce the likelihood of falling for these types of scams.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, senior citizens are more likely to have good credit, own their own home, and have savings. While these things are great, they also make an attractive target for a con.
Telemarketing fraud is a common scheme involving senior citizens. These types of scams take place when an individual provides personal financial information such as a credit card, bank account or social security number to an unknown caller. Sending money to people unknown to the individual is also a type of telemarketing fraud commonly perpetrated on seniors.
The National Council on Aging describes three specific types of telemarking scams
- The “Pigeon Drop”: This type of con often involves two people and occurs when the con artist tells the senior that they have money they are willing to share with them if a payment is made. The second con artist may pose as a banker or lawyer.
- The “Fake Accident” Con: This con occurs when the con artist makes the person believe that a loved one, often a child/grandchild, has been in an accident, has been hospitalized and needs money.
- The “Charity Scam”: This type of con often occurs after a natural disaster and happens when the con artist asks for money in the name of a fake charity.
So, what can you do to protect yourself against these types of con?
- Sign up for the Do Not Call List. Signing up for this list reduces the likelihood of being contacted by telemarketers in general.
- If someone calls pretending to be a family member asking for something, check the story out with another family member first and ask them questions that only that family member would know.
- Never give out your personal information to an unknown person or an unfamiliar company. This includes your: date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, credit card number and expiration date. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a representative of a bank or institution you do business with, get their name, title and call-back number. Then hang up, and call your institution directly to inquire about the call and alleged request. Legitimate banks and other financial institutions do not customarily request personal pin numbers and other sensitive information via phone.
- Research unfamiliar companies. Look them up on the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general’s office, and the National Fraud Information Center.
- Before you do business with someone check them out first. Get their name, telephone number, mailing address and business license number. Check references when available, asking detailed questions about how the customer knows the business and how long they’ve been working with them.
The National Coalition on Aging