Avoid Senior Scams
Many of the perks and advantages of aging and reaching the senior citizen age are the wide variety of discounts and deals available. However, one should be wary of senior scams and rip-offs that help others to savings and personal information. Here is a list of 5 scams to be attentive to and steer away from. Seniors are often an easy target.
The Pitch: We all know about telemarketers. For some, the phone rings endlessly. You gave out your number to that one survey center and now you’re in telemarketing hell. What’s more, telemarketer scams and schemes are always growing and changing. Their schemes can be very deceiving. Often they call with the intent that they already know something about you or your lifestyle (false) and for $0.99 a day they can make your life easier (also false).
The Problem: According to Consumers League, nearly a third of all telemarketing fraud victims are age 60 or older. Telemarketers target seniors because they are often more willing to continue a conversation. They may live alone, are less likely to hang up the phone, or suffer from memory impairment. Scammers use these fake telemarketing calls to prey on seniors. As a group, seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. There is no paper trail so these scams are hard to trace.
The Point: Be wary of giving out any information. It may be a scam if they will not give you written information. If the telemarketer uses scare tactics, or if they have a sense of urgency (“You must act now or you’ll miss out on winning $10,000 worth of the best surprise ever!”), hang up. If you feel uncomfortable at all, listen to your intuition.
2. Credit Cards
The Pitch: You get a brochure in your mailbox or e-mail inbox. You may get a phone call. It’s a cruise group offering a FREE TRIP if you send them your contact information and credit card number. There won’t be ANY CHARGES TO YOUR CREDIT CARD. They only need it for security purposes. These pitches are getting increasingly more believable.
The Problem: It’s all lies. Since seniors been around longer, their credit card scores are high and they typically have good credit. That makes them an enticing target for credit card scammers. You send in your credit card information, prepare for your free cruise, and come to find that someone just bought six seasons of America’s Next Top Model on your credit card. There’s no cruise, and now you’re a victim of identity theft. Good times.
The Point: Just never give your credit card number to anyone unless you initiated the order.
3. Website Ads
The Pitch: Talk about website pop-ups – they can look really tempting (“you are our one millionth visitor – get your $100 gift card!”) etc.
The Problem: Many pop-ups are scams or they could be viruses that access your computer’s data. About 36 percent of all web traffic is considered phony. You may be tricked into downloading something you do not want. It may be almost impossible to remove it from your computer. Never open an email if you do not know who it is from. You could allow access to your computer and all of its files. It would be easy for someone to wipe out your computer or steal your identity.
The Point: Website ads tend to offer services to persuade people that they can ‘get rich quick’. One only needs to click the link to find success. There are stories about ‘people just like you’. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Nothing is free.
4. Destinations, Bait and Switch
The Pitch: You have made arrangements to go to a certain destination. A well-meaning individual approaches you and offers to take you to a different location.
The Problem: That destination may not exist or you may be pressured into paying, just to be driven back to a familiar place.
The Point: Beware of being sidelined when you have made plans to go to a specific place. Check it out for yourself. Make no mistake, attractions are often closed on certain days of the week but make your own alternative plans. That helpful individual may be trying just to help himself. Remember what you tell your grandchildren, never go anywhere with a stranger.
5. The ‘Grandparent’ Scam
The Pitch: This is a new trend in elderly fraud tactics. Scammers will place a call to an elderly adult. The conversation may be similar to this.: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of their grandchild, the scammer has established a forged identity.
The Problem: Once the scammer receives some sort of recognition, the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve an unexpected financial problem, doctor bills, rent or perhaps for car repairs. They request payment from Western Union or MoneyGram. At the same time, the scam artist will ask the grandparent not to tell the parents of the grandchild.
The Point: If you suspect that you are receiving this type of call, resist the pressure to act quickly. Contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate. Seniors should never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail. Wiring money is like transferring cash and once you send it, you cannot get it back.
It bears repeating: Always be wary of senior scams. Seniors may be an easy target but that does not mean it has to happen to you.