The threat of financial fraud is higher than ever these days, with phishing emails, robocalls, counterfeit prescription drug sales, and misleading telemarketing schemes tricking millions of seniors every year into giving their personal identification numbers to criminals, sending money to con artists, or buying unneeded or faulty products from unethical companies that prey on the ignorance or dementia of elders.
Most Common Types of Financial Fraud Scams Against Seniors
- Insurance Scams- An individual calls the senior posing as a Medicare representative with information for the senior, but first they need to verify the senior’s personal information, such as their social security number.
- Email and Phishing Scams - The senior is asked to verify or update their personal information, such as their social security number and birth date, for their health insurance provider or the IRS, when in fact their personal information is used to steal a tax refund or commit another type of fraud.
- The Grandparent Phone Scam - The senior will be cold-called by an individual posing as their grandchild, asking for bail money, help with bills or financial assistance for some other fictitious reason.
- Investment Scams/Pyramid Schemes - The senior is tricked into buying into a pyramid scheme or putting money into a retirement plan that does not exist.
- Telemarketing Scams and Phone Fraud - Unfortunately many telemarketing scams are legal in the United States, and sell an expensive product to the senior that is unneeded. Other scams are downright fraudulent, such as giving to fake charities or asking for financial help due to a fake medical emergency. In the process, the caller walks away with the senior’s credit card information.
Why Unsavory Companies and Con Artists Target the Elderly
There are a variety of reasons why people over 65 are more susceptible to financial scams than younger adults, which is why they are targeted more heavily than other age groups.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these reasons include the following:
- Senior citizens often have a nest egg or larger financial assets than younger adults;
- The “Silent Generation” was born to be polite and trusting of others;
- Seniors are unlikely to report fraud because they do not know how to; and
- Con artists understand that elderly victims often make bad witnesses due to memory loss;
- Seniors are highly interested in life-saving medications and devices, which make it easy to sell them on expensive products that are completely defective.
Furthermore, seniors often have a poor understanding of technology and the internet, which makes them easy targets for online scams. Dementia and mild cognitive impairment affect between 20 and 25 percent of people over the age of 65, according to the Washington Post, which is potentially the most significant reason why seniors are targeted.
Call a Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney Today
If your older parent has been the victim of any type of financial fraud, it may be a sign that they need your assistance with their finances, including guardianship, conservatorship, closing joint bank accounts, or voiding transfer deeds. For more information, we urge you to contact a Walnut Grove elder law attorney with the Feldman Law Group today at (925) 208-4543 to schedule a free consultation.