While con artists may target anyone, older Americans are often seen as an easier target. Seniors should not have to worry about scams, con artists, or losing money to dishonest people. Sadly, statistics show that is the case for a lot of older Americans. According to a 2019 article by CNBC contributor, Maggie Fitzgerald, “Seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually from financial exploitation.”
That is a disturbing statistic.
Why Target Seniors?
Why do scammers target senior citizens? They believe seniors will be more likely to fall for their scams. Advancements in technology have made it easier for scammers to target unsuspecting consumers. Age, income level, or lack of understanding can be contributing factors in scams targeting seniors. Scammers have even gotten good at spoofing phone numbers to make it appear they are coming from a legitimate source and many of the emails they send look and sound like they are coming from real companies.
According to the National Council of Aging, there are 10 common scams used on seniors.
- Medicare/health insurance scams
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Funeral & cemetery scams
- Fraudulent anti-aging products
- Telemarketing/phone scams
- Internet fraud
- Investment schemes
- Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
- Sweepstakes & lottery scams
- The grandparent scam
The National Council of Aging also states that telemarketing and phone scams are the most common among senior citizens.
Sometimes it can be hard to know if you are being scammed or taken advantage of. The North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ), however, gives great tips on how consumers of any age can protect themselves.
Top Five Consumer Tips from the NCDOJ
- Say no to high-pressure sales pitches. Just hang up the phone or walk away.
- Always read contracts carefully before you sign them, and make sure all written documents match what you’ve been promised.
- Be cautious when responding to telemarketers, door-to-door sellers, and email or text pitches. If you have caller ID, you may not want to answer the phone if you don’t know who is calling.
- You never have to make a purchase or pay taxes, fees or other expenses in advance to win a prize.
- Never give out your Social Security number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
As your mother probably told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Anyone can fall victim to fraud. Be cautious and take steps to protect yourself. If you are not sure if something is legitimate, reach out to the company directly to their published phone number. If you have been affected by fraud, don’t be ashamed to report it to the police.
Brinkley Walser Stoner attorneys are here to help with your legal needs; schedule your appointment today to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.