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5 Common Financial Scams Aimed at Seniors

Educate yourself so you can protect yourself or your loved ones

While the health of your senior loved ones might be the main thing you focus on, there are other areas you can’t ignore, such as their finances. Just as you want to ensure that they are safe when driving, traveling, etc., you need to do the same for their money.

Unfortunately, older people are preyed upon all the time by scammers and con artists, and research shows that due to diminished capacity or simply higher levels of trust, they often make for easier targets. Here are some of the most common schemes to know about:

Grandparent scam

In this scam, someone calls an elderly person pretending to be one of their grandchildren. Often, no research is involved, as the person can just say “Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?” and (assuming they have a grandchild the same gender as the caller), they will probably offer a name. Then they will be fed some sort of sob story about needing money and how it can best get to them, probably through a money order.

IRS scam

Prevalent around tax time, this scam involves somebody calling a senior and claiming to be from the IRS. The perpetrator will say that thousands in back taxes or penalties are owed and they need to be paid immediately. They may even make it seem as though the house might be foreclosed upon or that the person could even be arrested. It’s important for everyone to remember that the IRS never calls anyone. If they need to contact you, it will almost certainly be through the mail.

Sweepstakes scam

Everybody likes winning things, and when the prize is thousands of dollars, this is even sweeter. It’s this excitement that crooks take advantage of.

In this scam, seniors are informed that they won some sort of sweepstakes or lottery. To get the ball rolling, all they’ll need to do is put up a small fee, which may not actually be that small at all. For example, they may have been told that they won $50,000, but in order to claim it, they’ll need to send a check for $1,000. And what’s a measly $1,000 if you’re getting $49,000 in return?

Charity scam

With constant disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, and even erupting volcanoes, there never seems to be a shortage of places to donate money. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous people take advantage of these calamities and the good nature of people who want to help. They often call elderly folks and say they’re from a charity and that even a small donation (but a bigger one would be better) could help so many in need.

Investment fraud

Not all illicit financial activity aimed at seniors is committed by shady characters on the other end of a phone. Often the people involved are trusted professionals, such as brokers or money managers. Older individuals are frequently targeted because with a lifetime of earnings, they frequently have a lot of money that could be invested.

This makes them ripe for different types of fraud, including unsuitable recommendations, churning (excessive trading to generate commissions), and even outright theft.

What can you do to keep your loved ones safe?

Scammers will never stop trying to steal people’s money, but there are ways to thwart their efforts. The first thing you should do is talk to your loved ones and make them aware about how they may be targeted. Encourage them to be a little more distrustful, and if anything seems funny or too good to be true, they don’t have to agree to anything. If you can, you may also want to keep an eye on their finances, just to make sure everything looks as it should.

Think your parent, grandparent, or another senior has already fallen victim to financial fraud perpetrated by a financial industry professional? The Silver Law Group may be able to help. To speak to an elder financial fraud attorney, give us a call at 800-975-4345 or just send us a message through our online contact form.

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