Elderly individuals throughout the country are unfortunately the target of numerous financial scams that can result in their losing thousands of dollars. Scammers and fraudsters often target elderly individuals because they are more likely to be socially isolated and unfamiliar with computers and other types of modern technology. Some of the most common types of financial scams that can lead to elderly individuals losing money include IRS scams, tech scams, funeral scams, and Medicare fraud. Fortunately, there are certain steps that elderly individuals can take to prevent these scams and their financial impacts.
IRS scams are especially common in the first part of the year (during tax season). A caller may threaten the elderly individual with arrest or property foreclosure if he or she does not immediately pay the taxes that he or she “owes.” It is important to keep in mind that the IRS will never contact you via an unsolicited phone call. Instead, it will send you a letter in the mail.
Tech Scams that Involve the Elderly
As part of a tech scam, the caller will warn the elderly individual that a virus has infected the software on his or her computer. The caller will typically state that to keep files from being corrupted, the elderly individual will have to make a payment immediately so that the issue can be corrected.
In some instances, scammers will even go so far as to look in the newspaper obituaries to obtain the personal information of a recently deceased person, such as the person’s address information. They may then use this information to rob a person’s home or to financially take advantage of an elderly person (or the elderly person’s family) in some other way.
Finally, elderly individuals are often the target of various forms of Medicare fraud. For example, the fraudster might call the elderly individual claiming to be a Medicare representative or a health care representative. They might then try and trick the elderly individual into providing certain personal information, such as date of birth or social security number, that is “missing” from the elderly individual’s medical records. Once disclosed, the fraudster then uses this information to steal the person’s identity, often opening credit cards in the person’s name and taking financial advantage of the person.
Tips to Keep in Mind
When it comes to preventing elderly financial scams, including possible identity theft, there are certain tips that you should keep in mind. First, you should refrain from answering a telephone call that comes from a number that is unfamiliar. If the call is from a legitimate source, the caller will likely leave a voicemail message.
Moreover, you should remember that government agencies will not email you or call you about important information. Instead, these agencies are required to send you written correspondence. If you receive a call from a person who claims to represent a government agency, such as the IRS or Social Security Administration, you should promptly end the call by hanging up the phone. By following these steps, you can help to avoid falling victim to a financial scam and the resulting consequences.