No matter what age, all people are somewhat vulnerable to expert scam artists. They prey on desires and fears, and try to trick people into giving them personal information. Most people, however, have a healthy enough dose of skepticism to filter out scams. Elderly people, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to scam artists.
As people age, they can sometimes become forgetful and more dependent on others. Older people grew up in tighter communities, so they often are more trusting of and friendlier to strangers. Elderly adults are less tech savvy, so they may be fooled by new gadgets. Many seniors may not hear about new scams targeting people in their area. This makes seniors even more likely to fall victims of fraudulent activity.
Furthermore, as the number of senior citizens grows every year, scams designed to target the particular vulnerabilities of older adults become increasingly profitable.
As the caretaker of an elderly loved one, one of your biggest responsibilities will be to protect him or her from scam artists. You need to take steps to protect older family members from scams.
Recognizing Common Scams that Target Seniors
One of the best ways to protect loved ones against scams is to educate yourself on the most common scams people use to target seniors. You can teach your loved ones and watch out for any signs that your family is being targeted.
There are many ways scam artists trick seniors into giving them money or personal information. The most common tactics include Internet-based scams, phone calls, direct mailings, broadcast ads, print advertisements, and door-to-door solicitations. The following are some of the most common schemes employed:
- Living trust seminars or kits: Many estate planning “do-it-yourself” kits or seminars are really ruses to bilk large numbers of seniors out of money for nothing of value in return. Even worse, some of these scams are used to collect personal financial information. The best way to plan for your estate is always to consult an estate-planning attorney who is a reliable member of the American Bar Association. Many of these seminars claim to be “endorsed” by organizations like AARP, when in reality they are frauds.
- Financial seminars for a “free” big-ticket item: No matter what product they are giving away, it almost never is worth it to attend. These events always involve high-pressure sales tactics for the product they really want to sell (like timeshares, for examples), and seniors may end up purchasing something they do not need and cannot afford.
- Unsolicited reverse mortgage offers: Legitimate reverse mortgage companies do not send out unsolicited information or offers. It is important to do thorough research before contacting these types of companies.
- Investment opportunities: Although there are many great options that seniors can use to invest, usually unsolicited offers from unknown companies can’t be trusted. Be careful of pyramid schemes.
- Healthcare fraud: Many travelling labs will scare elderly patients into getting unnecessary “tests” and then overbill the patient or Medicare.
The most important thing to remember with any offer that you or your loved ones receive is that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Do not ever invest money in something without careful and exhaustive research. Most importantly, make sure to keep communication open and honest with seniors, so that you can work together to prevent fraud.
The best way to protect your assets and make investments is through a trusted estate planning and elder law attorney. If you want to keep seniors safe from scam artists, contact us at Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. today to find out how we can help. Also, make sure to read the second segment on how to prevent scams before they are ever presented to a loved one.