Beware the Senior Scams
With age comes wisdom, as the old saying goes. But for some of us that wisdom comes at a high cost, especially when we find we've become a victim of a scam. Here are some of the most common scams seniors may encounter.
- Internet and email scams. The internet can be overwhelming, and often tech-savvy crooks have the upper hand. Beware of emails making promises that are too good to be true or people you don't know who reach out to you via social media or other online venues. You should never share your personal information with someone online, especially bank routing, account and social security numbers. Also, never send money to receive a prize.
- Health care and prescription scams. We all want to save money on the cost of our prescriptions, but use caution, particularly when using online sites that promise deep discounts. Many shoppers who have trusted these sites have paid for their medications and never received them. Also, be wary of people who call and say they are health care or Medicare representatives who then ask for your personal information. In some cases, scammers have used that info to bill Medicare and keep the money.
- Investment and Financial Scams. Whenever someone offers you an opportunity to invest and make huge profits, proceed with caution. There are many so-called opportunities to invest in fictional businesses and vacation properties. Likewise, take great care when choosing a financial advisor, and always keep an eye on your accounts.
- Cashier's check and bad check Scams. If you sell items online, you may be contacted by scammers. If a potential buyer wants to issue you a cashier's check for the item, beware. Scam artists will often ask someone to cash the check and return the extra money. Days later, the victim finds out the check is fraudulent. Take care with personal checks as well, which can bounce after deposit, leaving you liable.
- Relative in trouble scam. Some scam artists will gain the personal information of a loved one, scare you into thinking they are in trouble and then request you send money. In other cases, someone may call and get you to guess who they are and, then use that identity to convince you they need help.
Bottom line: If the offer seems too good to be true, if they ask for personal information, if you feel pressured or if it just doesn't feel right, chances are it's a scam. Take a breath, discuss it with someone you trust and check the organization or offer with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or on Snopes.com. If someone is trying to scam you, you may also want to contact the police.