Financial crimes on seniors are so prevalent that they’re now considered the “crime of the 21st century.” Although many of these crimes will go unseen, unreported, or unprosecuted, they can be devastating to many older adults. According to the Federal Burea of Investigation, older adults lose up to $3 billion annually.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has put out the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors:
1. Medicare/health insurance scams
2. Counterfeit prescription drugs
3. Funeral & cemetery scams
4. Fraudulent anti-aging products
5. Telemarketing/phone scams
6. Internet fraud
7. Investment schemes
8. Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams
9. Sweepstakes & lottery scams
1. The grandparent scam
To combat the growing epidemic of financial crimes against the elderly, the NCOA has put out the top 8 tips for how seniors can protect themselves from money scams:
1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers—and from those closest to you
2. Don’t isolate yourself—stay involved!
3. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
4. Shred all receipts with your credit card number
5. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists
6. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen from the mailbox
7. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call
8. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and thoroughly do your research
If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it—waiting could only make it worse. Immediately:
· Call your bank and/or credit card company.
· Cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account.
· Reset your personal identification number(s).