Anyone, of any age, can be the victim of a scam. The scams take various forms, but the goal is the same- to steal something that rightfully belongs to you! It may be your identity, cash, your credit card information, or whatever the scammer can use to make some undeserved income for him/herself.
Seniors are especially vulnerable, and scammers know this. According to caregiverstress.com there are 6 common scams that specifically target senior citizens. If you are a senior citizen (or have a friend or loved one who is), you should be aware of these. Please pass the information on!
1. Telemarketing via internet, phone and mail that seeks information or a password, often in the guise of “updating your account”, “updating our contact information”, “verifying what we have”. The scammer will usually have a few pieces of information, and will seek more.
2. Fake Charities– These “charities” may give a very small amount or zero to the intended recipient. They often do not have the proper organization or non-profit status.
3. Sweepstakes: If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Don’t put ANY checks or money orders in your bank account! The scammers then have your account information and the checks bounce. They may even ask you for money (for instance, you deposit a check for $ 5,000 to your account and “pay only a $ 250 processing fee!”. Then the check bounces and you have lost $250 plus bank fees!).
4. Health Care Fraud: Scammers will use your insurance card or identity information to get treatment for themselves or others. Don’t give out confidential information to ANYONE you don’t know and be sure to shred medical documents – treat them with the same care as the most sensitive of your financial documents.
5. Identity Theft: The scammer will often ask for information from you to “update your account”. Identity theft can also happen by putting financial information on an improperly secured website, leaving it lying around, giving it to someone you shouldn’t trust, or not shredding financial documents.
6. Financial Exploitation: Some financial counselors are not reputable and have their own best interests in mind, not what is good for the senior that they are advising.
It is always a good idea to have a shredder available to shred private documents.
If you have written a check or given credit card information and it later occurs to you that you may have been a victim of a scam, don’t wait! You can call your bank or credit card company IMMEDIATELY to stop payment! You should always notify your bank or credit card company of any scam that took your money, even if it is a very small amount! Don’t let the scammer keep getting away with it and don’t assume that the scammer will not come back to your account for a second helping!
If you are the victim of a scam, you may need to consider filing charges, contacting the attorney general or other government agency, or retaining a lawyer to help you. If you have been scammed by a company or individual that is known to you, you may have legal options to attempt recovery of what you have lost. Contact a business attorney or consumer law attorney to get a consult and get more information.