There are a variety of reasons seniors are targeted for financial scams. In general, this generation was raised to be polite. It’s why many older adults have a hard time closing the door on a door-to-door salesperson or hanging up on a telemarketer. Seniors, especially those living alone, may be lonely and more willing to spend time talking with a stranger.
AARP estimates are that one in five seniors has fallen victim to fraud. Many are too embarrassed to let loved ones know what has happened to them.
What can you do to prevent the seniors in your life from being victimized?
It starts with making them aware of the most common risks.
The Scams that Target Older Adults
The most common types of financial scams to make your aging loved one aware of are:
- Pre-Planned Funerals and Cemetery Plots: Funerals and cemetery plots are two common places where fraud occurs. Scammers call or visit seniors’ homes to try to convince them to take care of both so their “children won’t have to.” Remind an aging parent never to sign a contract without having you and an attorney review it.
- Internet Fraud: Older adults who might not be as tech savvy as the younger generation can be more susceptible to online scams, including phishing emails. Help the senior in your life learn more by visiting the FBI’s Internet Fraud site. They provide examples of the most common types of online scams and tips to avoid falling victim.
- Reverse Mortgages: These specialty loans provide seniors with the income they sometimes need to finance home care or other care needs. Reverse mortgages are designed to allow older adults to take advantage of the equity in their home. Unfortunately, scammers use illegal or unethical programs to defraud seniors of their homes or money. AARP has resources you can use to better understand reverse mortgages and how to find a legitimate lender for an aging loved one.
- You’ve Won Big: Seniors often receive “prize notifications” by phone or mail. These fraudulent notices say the older adult has won everything from a tropical getaway to a free car, but the senior will need to pay taxes or a “processing fee.” Don’t do it. These are almost always a scam of some sort designed to gain access to a credit or debit card number.
Our final tip is to help spread the word about scams against seniors. Report them to your local authorities and to AARP’s ElderWatch.