There seems to be no end to the tricks that criminals come up with in order to defraud people out of their money and possessions. Electronic media have inadvertently provided more opportunities for individuals to be swindled. According to the FBI, seniors are more vulnerable to these frauds for several reasons.
1. They are targeted because it’s assumed they have a “nest egg” of money saved.
2. Seniors are often more trusting of strangers who sound knowledgeable.
3. They are unwilling to admit that they were scammed for fear they may be labeled incompetent or unable to care for themselves.
4. Older people often fall for claims about new products that will slow cognitive deterioration or delay the aging process.
One of the latest scams directed at seniors was when a male caller phoned an older woman and claimed to be “verifying Medicare information.” As is often the case with legitimate calls, he said the conversation would be recorded. He assured her that he would answer any and all questions she might have after getting just a little information. After giving her name, address, and bank account number, including her last check number, she tried to ask a question, but the caller hung up. Now he had personal information that could allow him to make purchases using her account. Or even worse, he might sell the information to dozens of other crooks.
Even emails from friends can be bogus. I received one saying my friend was on vacation and had been mugged and robbed. Supposedly he was asking me to send money to his hotel so he could pay his bill and come home. But a scammer had hacked into his email account, stolen his email contacts, and was waiting to collect the money I would send without my friend even knowing.
*Calls, emails, or mailings saying you’ve won a lottery in a foreign country.
*Deals for discounts on products or services that are almost too good to be true.
*Investment schemes promising huge gains.
*Insurance sales people who make you feel that you must pay now for a policy you’re not sure you want or need.
NEVER, EVER give out your credit card, phone card, Social Security, or checking account number on the phone. It’s illegal for telemarketers to request these numbers to verify a prize or gift.