There is no end to the lengths scammers will go to part seniors’ from their hard-earned money. It’s sad that there are people in the world who will stoop to this level. Senior citizen telephone scams and why seniors’ are easy targets are really not that difficult to figure out.
It’s shocking that seniors around the world lose billions of dollars every year.
There are several reasons why some seniors’ are easy targets for unscrupulous scammers.
Have a look at this video on Preventing and Reporting Senior scams
WHY SENIORS ARE TARGETED
First of all, scammers know that many seniors’ have a substantial nest-egg put away for their retirement and they want to get their hands on it.
They also know that many seniors’ have memory or other cognitive issues and are easily confused. This makes them perfect targets that can be easily manipulated.
Many seniors live in fear. They are afraid of so many things. Seniors fear falling or to have some sort of medical issue when they are all alone. Not every senior has a caregiver and even those that do are often on their own for part of the day.
They also fear that their money will run out. What would they do if something happened to the money they spent a lifetime saving for their retirement?
Some scams have been very successful and here are a few of them that seniors’ should be aware of.
THE IRS SCAM
The way it works is that scammers will claim to be IRS agents. The message is pretty much always the same and it has been successful in Canada and the United States as seniors’ have lost millions to it.
The scammer tells the senior that they have a lot of back taxes that have not been paid. Once they have the senior worried and nervous they go on to say they could go to jail or be facing a lawsuit if they didn’t rectify the situation and pay the back taxes that are owing.
It sounds so credible to the seniors’ that they send the money to the scammer out of sheer fear of ending up in jail or facing a lawsuit, or even losing their driver’s license.
HEALTH INSURANCE SCAM
The senior will get a phone call from someone who claims to be a Medicare representative.
In the USA, seniors qualify for Medicare at the age of 65, Of course, the scammers know this and the seniors’ are easy targets.
Sometimes it will be a door-to-door scam, but most often it is a scam that happens over the phone. Most scammers are too gutless to show up in person.
What should seniors’ look for that might indicate that things are not as they seem to be?
First of all, they will try to get you to give up your social security number on the premise that you must get a new card. People should never give up their social security numbers over the telephone.
A scammer might call claiming that you need to purchase additional insurance.
They might even tell a senior that it’s necessary for them to purchase supplemental policies.
Finally, they might ask for a $100 fee in order to help them to find their way around medicare.
If this ever happens over the phone the best thing a senior can do is simply hang up the phone if they have any doubt at all.
THE FUNERAL SCAM
The is no end to the lengths scammers will go in order to part seniors’ from their money.
All they have to do is look at the obituaries and search on senior victims who are burying a loved one. They are a prime target for scammers.
One of the ploys they use is to call the senior and tell them the deceased owed them money and will ask the surviving senior to pay the debt.
As many seniors’ have no way of knowing if it’s true or not, they will often send the scammer money to pay the perceived debt.
The best way to deal with this is to simply hang up the phone and possibly discuss it with family members.
Perhaps you have never heard of this term, but it’s time to fully understand it in the event this happens to you.
A scammer can call you and make the caller I.D. post the name of a bank or anything else. Caller I. D’s can be manipulated to read anything, so seniors’ should not necessarily believe it’s their bank calling just because it says so on their caller I.D.
The most common scam is to make you think that it’s your bank calling. When the senior answers the phone, the scammer will tell them there’s a problem with their account and they need to verify info.
A senior should never divulge their banking information to anyone over the phone. Once the scammer has enough information, they can access your account.
There is a very easy way for seniors’ to avoid this scam. If the caller I.D. says bank or charity or anything else a senior is unsure of, let the call go to voicemail.
In the event, it was a supposed call from their bank the senior should call the bank and ask them if there is a problem with your account. If they say no, then congratulations, you avoided being scammed.
THE LOTTERY SCAM
A senior might get a call stating that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. However, in order to collect their winnings, they must pay money or give up some sensitive personal information.
This can turn out to be a scam that never ends. If a senior does take the bait and sends money, they become part of a list of people who are easily scammed.
Often that sets them up for further scam phone calls at a later date.
They may even send a fake lottery winnings cheque that the senior can deposit in their bank. In the meantime, the scammer collects fees and taxes on the prize.
The reason this works so well is that seniors’ have already deposited the winning lottery amount and are totally convinced that it’s the real deal. However, by the time the cheque fails to clear the scammer has the seniors’ money and the check bounces.
THE GRANDCHILD SCAM
The scammer will call a senior and this is how the call will usually go.
They will not say very much. Most likely a male scammer will just say “Grandma?” or Grandpa?” in a very hushed tone so the senior can hardly make out the voice.
What the scammer hopes is that the senior will say the name of their grandson in response. For instance, “Mike, is that you?” They might make a dozen phone calls to other seniors’ until they get such a response.
If the senior does mention the grandson’s name the scammer will say something like, “I’m in trouble. I’m in jail and I need you to wire me money so I can get out.”
This is an expensive scam for seniors’ to fall for. Often the amount asked for is in the thousands of dollars.(typically, around $4000).
This can be what’s called a reload scam, much like the lottery scam. The reasoning is that if a senior falls for one scam, they will most likely fall for another.
Once the senior wires’ money they will call again a while later imitating a police officer.
They will say the amount of money was not enough and they must wire more in order for their grandson to get out of jail.
Seniors should never divulge personal info or wire money unless they are 100% sure who they are wiring it to.
Family members should be aware of the financial situation of the senior.
It’s not prying to find this out when you are concerned for the seniors and the money they have set aside for their retirement. They should also always be discussing with the senior the possibility of someone trying to scam them over the telephone.
They can go as far as telling them the types of scams that are out there so the senior will be able to recognize a suspicious call and how to deal with it. Of course, simply hanging up the phone is the best option as seldom will scammers call back.
In the event the scammer claims it was their bank calling and the caller I.D. is the banks’ name, they should hang up immediately and call the bank to verify whether there is a problem with their account.
If a senior has memory issues or perhaps suffers from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, the best safety feature is to have a family member as co-signer for all checks and withdrawals from the seniors’ account.
This way the family member can ensure that any withdrawals or checks are not the results of the senior being scammed.
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