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Know the scams that target older adults

| Mar 31, 2020 | Elder Abuse

If your parents are in their 70s or beyond, they have an elevated risk of falling victim to a financial scam. Many of these predators target older adults, at a cost of almost $3 billion annually according to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. 

Become familiar with these common scam tactics so you can help your senior loved one identify potential red flags. 

IRS impersonations 

As the annual tax deadline nears, this approach becomes more common. Those who use this scam can even mask their identity in emails and caller ID so the recipient thinks they are receiving official contact from the IRS. Remind your parent that the IRS only does official business through the postal mail. They do not call or email taxpayers to take payments or other information. 

Medicaid and health insurance fraud 

Like the IRS scam, this tactic involves posing as a representative from Medicaid or a private health insurance company. The caller will attempt to gather the person’s Social Security number, bank account number and other personal data. Never give out identifying information or financial details over the phone or through email. 

Sweepstakes scams 

If your loved one receives a phone call or email indicating that he or she has won the lottery, express caution. Usually, this tactic involves asking the victim to take a few additional steps to claim prize winnings, such as entering personal information or paying a fee. The Special Committee on Aging reported that potential victims appear on lead lists that the scammers purchase, so if your family member experiences this situation once, he or she will likely receive future scam calls. 

Counterfeit prescription drugs 

When seniors take multiple medications to manage chronic health conditions, they often feel overwhelmed by prescription drug costs. However, purchasing prescriptions online can be an expensive and dangerous scam in which the seller provides counterfeit drugs in exchange for payment. 

Encourage your family member to keep financial information private. If unsure about an offer, he or she should ask the person to mail the details for further review.