Unfortunately, senior scams are on the rise. Seniors are considered prime targets for scammers, as it is common for seniors to have a “nest egg” and above-average credit. Additionally, seniors are perceived as being less likely to report a crime and more likely to fall for one. To help you learn how to avoid these sneaky scams, today we’re looking at the top five schemes aimed at seniors as well as tips for avoiding them. With a little bit of knowledge, you can stay stay safe, secure, and happy throughout your sunset years.
(and How to Avoid Them)
#5 : The Funeral or Cemetery Scam
During the difficult days following a loved one’s death, it can be hard to make decisions regarding the funeral and burial. Because many seniors are eager to finish the task quickly, they fall prey to shady salespeople at funeral homes who are pushing expensive upgrades like mahogany caskets and elaborate funeral services. Although many funeral directors are kind and compassionate, some will stoop to low levels in order to make some extra money.
TIPS: Take some time to research and “shop around” so that you can make an informed decision, keeping an eye out for scammers. Carefully read all contracts, paying attention to cancellation and refund terms, and don’t pay anything until you’re confident in your choice. Consider asking a friend or relative to come with you, so that they can offer advice and support. Finally, remember that you are in control. Never let yourself get pressured into a purchase or contract.
#4 : The Anti-Aging Scam
I think it’s safe to say that most adults wouldn’t mind looking a bit younger and more vibrant. However, scammers are taking advantage of this fact by calling seniors and offering “breakthrough” formulas for anti-aging products. As the FBI says, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”
TIPS: If you’re genuinely interested in the product, be bold in asking questions about it and then research it thoroughly on your own using unbiased customer reviews and reputable sources (like the Better Business Bureau). Generally, untrustworthy products are the ones claiming to cure multiple serious issues with just one product. Another red flag is when products claim to have no side effects whatsoever. Remember to always speak with your physician before you begin taking something new.
#3 : The Telemarketing Scam
Telemarketers often target people age 60 or older, offering bogus products and services and using compelling phrases: “Act now for the lowest price!” “Congratulations, you’ve won a free vacation!” “You won’t want to miss this no-risk offer!” The offers occur by phone and cover a variety of topics, from free prizes and low-priced vacations to vitamins and health care products. They may even coerce you into donating to a fake charity.
TIPS: These scammers are often preying on your vulnerability and your desire to get a good deal. Although the offer may sound tempting, it is almost certainly a lie crafted to weasel you out of money. If you’re truly curious about the service, product, or charity, research the company or organization on your own so that you can find the truth. Finally, never give credit card information or private bank account information to a telemarketer.
#2 : Reverse Mortgage Scams
If you’re seeking a reverse mortgage, beware of scams created by lying professionals. For example, you may be offered a free home, an investment opportunity, or refinancing assistance. Once they’ve convinced you to move forward with the plan, the fraudster will then steal equity from your property. You may be targeted at church, on TV, or through radio or mailer advertisements.
TIPS: Be sure that you find a legitimate home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) that is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. Don’t respond to unsolicited ads and be suspicious of claims that seem too good to be true. Finally, consider consulting a reverse mortgage counselor so that you will fully understand the contracts involved before signing.
#1 : Health Care and Health Insurance Scams
Seniors tend to need more medical assistance than other age groups, which makes them a prime target for scammers. These scammers may offer free medical equipment (and then charge your insurer for them), give fake lab tests, sell you counterfeit prescription drugs, or bill you for services you didn’t receive. If you don’t stay on top of your medical records and bills, you could be an unwitting victim of these common senior scams.
TIPS: First, never sign a blank insurance claim form or give a medical provider blanket authorization to bill you for services. Stay on top of your medical bills, and always ask your medical providers about any confusing charges. Consult your pharmacist or doctor if a prescription drug looks suspicious or causes bad side effects. Refuse to do business with unsolicited salespeople who knock at your door or contact you by phone, e-mail, or mailer. Finally, only give your insurance and Medicare information to companies that have provided you with medical services.
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Don’t let a fraudster fool you with these common senior scams. Use our tips and stay on your guard. And finally, before you leave, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place, a premier senior living facility. At Hearthside Senior Living Place, you can maintain a vibrant lifestyle in a safe environment—making new friends, attending group activities, and enjoying community outings. We have one facility in Collierville, Tennessee, and one soon to open in Bartlett, Tennessee. To schedule a tour, please click here.