• How to Avoid Senior Scams and Protect Your Retirement

    How to Avoid Senior Scams and Protect Your Retirement

It’s a sad truth, however, many seniors fall victim to scams and cons every year. Scammers glean roughly $3 million from senior citizens every year and continue to target them for a range of cons. The first line of defense against a con artist is to be aware of the tricks they use, so here we have laid them out so you can avoid senior scams in the future.

Learn About Senior Scams

Medicare Scams

You should protect your Medicare number like you do your credit cards because Medicare fraud is increasingly common. Scammers pose as Medicare representatives to trick senior individuals into disclosing private information over the phone. One common scam is to make false offers for free services. However, the con artist will ask for Medicare numbers and credit card information for shipping fees.

Tax Fraud Scams

Your Social Security Number can be used for a range of crimes, like identity theft. But one scam many people overlook is tax fraud. If you have a Social Security Number breach, scammers may be able to claim your tax returns for themselves. Be very careful about entering your number on unofficial websites as this is the most common way to accidentally compromise your information.

Identity Theft

Speaking of identity theft, we should cover that here too. This is a common form of fraud and entails the stealing of personal information to use someone else’s identity. This is grants access to your bank account or credit cards. Identity theft can occur over the phone, online, or even by using unsecured ATMs. To avoid this problem, always shred mail with important information and only make purchases from trusted businesses.

Computer Virus Scams

If you’ve ever been surfing the web and encountered a pop-up window stating that your computer had a virus, then you’ve brushed shoulders with this type of scam. This is another way your private information can be stolen and used for fraud. These fake alerts trick people every year into downloading a fake virus scanner. These scanners are, in fact, viruses that grant access to the information stored on your computer. 

Investment Scams

As we mentioned, seniors are likely to have a nice little nest egg prepared for their retirement and this makes for a prime target of investment scams. These scams may take many forms. False offers range from the promise of unrealistic returns on investments to promises of a foreign inheritance.

Charity Scams

The sad thing about this one is that it plays on the victim’s goodwill. Often, these scams will capitalize on a recent disaster with the criminal calling the victim and pretending to represent a charity or organization. They will ask if the victim is willing to make a donation and take their information over the phone. They will then use this information to steal additional funds from your account.

Family Member in Need Scam

This one plays on the close family ties to scam funds from a loved one. The scammer will convince the victim that a family member is in need. This need can range from a car accident and help with a medical bill to a kidnapping and ransom scenario. They may even hack into your family member’s social media to send messages posing as your grandchildren. 

How to Avoid Senior Scams

The best way to avoid being scammed is to be aware of them. Whenever you are contacted by a party you are unfamiliar with, do your due diligence and make sure the person you are talking to is the person they say they are. Here are some tips to help you avoid these senior scams:

  • Block unwanted calls and text messages.
  • NEVER give out personal information over the phone or email in response to a request for it.
  • Resist the pressure to act immediately (especially in regards to a prize or medical bill).
  • Never pay someone with a gift card, real businesses don’t get paid this way.
  • Stop and talk to someone you trust about what happened. 

Keep in mind that just because you are targeted for a scam doesn’t make you a fool as long as you know the warning signs, how to avoid them, and report suspicious activity.

Confident Living is a continuing care at home membership program, focused on helping you remain active and independent as you age in your own home. We serve the greater Cincinnati area. For more information, contact us online or call (513) 719-3522. 

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