Top 6 Elderly Scams to Watch Out For
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 3.2 million fraud reports in 2019. Many of those scams targeted mature adults with nest eggs that are attractive to con artists. The most common scams include:
- Medicare scams
- Social Security scams
- Coronavirus scams
- Computer and tech support scams
- Grandchild in need scams
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
Top 6 Scams to Avoid
To best protect yourself and your savings, here’s what you need to know about some of the most common scams.
1. Medicare Scams
Medicare is an easy target for scammers because every U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for the program, so scam artists never have to research what private health insurance company adults have. In these types of scams, perpetrators pose as Medicare representatives and get people to share their personal information.
To protect yourself, never give your Medicare information over the phone to anyone who calls and asks for it. If you think someone is using your Medicare information, check your Medicare Summary Notice to be sure your account is being charged only for services you have received. If a caller asks for your Medicare Number or any other personal information, hang up the phone right away and call Medicare directly at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
2. Social Security Scams
In Social Security scams, fraudsters use robocalls or live callers who pretend to be government employees who say there is a problem with your Social Security number, account or benefits. They may offer to increase your benefits, protect your assets or resolve an alleged case of identity theft in return for payment via gift card, pre-paid debit card, cash, wire transfer or an internet currency such as Bitcoin.
Social Security scammers are getting more aggressive. The callers threaten citizens with arrest or other legal actions for illegal or improper use of their Social Security Number (SSN) or account if the citizen does not call a specified number to address the issue. SSN scammers are getting more clever too – the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently warned that some of these impersonation calls spoof the SSA’s national customer service phone number so that caller ID shows the incoming number as 1-800-772-1213.
The best way to avoid Social Security scams is to hang up immediately then report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General at https://oig.ssa.gov/.
3. Coronavirus Scams
COVID-19 scams seem to spread across the nation faster than the coronavirus pandemic itself. Coronavirus stimulus payment scams seemed to pop up overnight, for example, with emails, texts and calls about checks from the government. Other coronavirus scams include offers for vaccines and products to treat or prevent coronavirus, home test kits, low-cost health insurance to cover COVID-19 care and donations.
The FTC received more than 91,000 total COVID-19-related complaints between January 1 and June 8, 2020. in those complaints, consumers reported losing a total of more than $59.2 million to coronavirus-related fraud. In addition to your money, fraudsters are hoping to steal your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), financial information and your medical information.
To avoid coronavirus stimulus payment scams, use only the irs.gov website to submit information to the IRS. Avoid coronavirus testing scams by getting COVID-19 tests from your local hospital or doctor. Do not purchase a vaccine, as researchers have not yet developed a vaccine for COVID-19. Until a vaccine is available, the best ways to prevent COVID-19 are wearing masks when in public, practicing physical distancing, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and washing your hands frequently.
4. Computer and Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams sometimes involve a fraudster who claims to work for a well-known company, such as Microsoft or Norton. The scammer contacts you about a virus they have detected on your computer. In other cases, a window pops up on your computer with a message to call a phone number to get help.
Next, the scammer alleges that they can remove the virus from your computer for a fee, which is usually between $100 and $400. In some cases, they charge you to download antivirus software you could get free of charge. In other cases, they install tracking software that gives them access to your computer and any personal information on your computer.
Mature adults filed losses on tech support scams more often than on any other types of fraud, according to the FTC, and they were 371 percent more likely to report losing money on these types of scams than their younger counterparts.
Adults can protect themselves from tech support scams by never sending money to anyone who initiates a phone call, and by never calling the phone number that appears on the screen. Instead, take your computer to a reputable computer repair shop.
5. Grandchild in Need Scams
The grandparent scam has been around for years. The scammer telephones an older adult pretending to be a grandchild who has been in an accident or who otherwise needs money right away. The FTC recently found that, instead of wiring the money or using gift cards, a growing number of older adults are mailing the money to the imposters. Sometimes, the fraudsters instruct the victim to divide the cash, put the money in several envelopes and slip the envelopes between the pages of a magazine.
Adults can protect themselves from the “grandchild in need” scam by hanging up and calling the grandchild on a known telephone number.
6. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Many people purchase prescription drugs online to get a lower price, but buying medications online can sometimes put you at risk. Some websites that sell prescription drugs are not U.S. state-licensed pharmacies or, worse still, are not pharmacies at all. Websites offering diagnoses may get it wrong and sell you medicine that is not right for you. The websites might also fail to protect your information.
Then there is the medication: some drugs sold online are counterfeits or “copycat” drugs, are too strong or too weak, contain dangerous ingredients or have expired. Medications sold by swindlers may not be FDA approved, are not made using safe standards, are unsafe to use with your other medication or are not labeled, shipped or stored.
You can avoid falling for counterfeit drug schemes by buying your prescriptions at your local pharmacy or an accredited online pharmacy.
Stay Safe and Live Well at Presidential Place
At Presidential Place, we believe in supporting our residents and helping them live strong, engaging lives. That includes helping you protect your finances from scammers.
When you move into our Hollywood, Florida, senior living community, you’ll have support from an expert staff as well as a choice between assisted living or memory care services. Our retirement community helps older adults living in Hollywood, FL, live their best lives. For more information, contact us by filling out the online form, or give us a call at 954-894-0059. We’re here to help you make the best, safest choice for your future living environment.