As we reach our senior years, our senses become less keen and we become less alert. This decline in sharpness may very well be one of the reasons why one in 20 people ages 60 and older are reported being the victim of some kind of financial abuse in the prior year when a survey was done in 2010. Although we should be caring for our elderly, opportunistic scammers take advantage of them, gain their trust then later tap into their bank accounts.
Listed below are some of the most common scams on the elderly:
- Medicare fraud. In some of these scams, people pose as Medicare representatives to persuade older people to provide their personal information, or crooks provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics in order to get their information, bill Medicare and pocket the money
- Grandparent scams. Many will call an older person, whispering “Grandma?” and mumbling so that the older person will volunteer a name. Once they’ve established an identity, they claim to have lost their wallet and/or passport in a foreign country or to have been arrested and in need of bail money.
- Knock-knock thefts. Someone comes to the door, posing as someone they’re not — a utility representative, a law-enforcement officer or charity worker, for example. The idea is to distract the victim while the crook (or an associate) ransacks the house, grabbing cash or other valuables.
- Sweetheart swindles. A younger person or alleged suitor feigns romantic interest in an older person long enough to establish trust and get his or name on bank accounts and property deeds. The suitor disappears along with the property.
- Bogus sweepstakes. In many sweepstakes scams, you get the promise of big money, but you have to wire some of your own to claim it, allegedly to cover things such as insurance, upfront taxes or shipping and handling fees.