By Ellen Bryer, EI blogger

Financial scams targeting seniors are becoming increasingly prevalent. Seniors are targeted regardless of how much money they have. Perpetrators can be serial offenders but often, older adults’ own family members are the perpetrators of these crimes. Furthermore, these crimes are difficult to prosecute and often go unnoticed, so it’s crucial to protect yourself and your older loved ones from scams.

Here are several common scams to be aware of:

  1. Fraudulent phone calls: Often scam artists solicit money for charity or natural disaster relief over the phone. Or, callers pose as Medicare employees asking for a senior’s personal information. Sometimes a scammer will even call and say, “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?”, assume the identity of the grandchild they sound most like and ask for money for a car, for late rent or school tuition.

  2. Counterfeit prescription scams: Don’t purchase prescription drugs over the internet even they seem much cheaper. These scams are dangerous for your bank account and for your body!

  3. Email / internet scams: There are plenty of investment opportunities, reverse mortgages and sweepstakes that seem a little bit too good to be true. Most likely they are.

Setting a few simple financial rules can help you protect yourself from scams.

  1. Always tell solicitors that you don’t buy from people who visit or call unannounced. Be wary of a sales opportunity that requires you to write down your credit card information and feel free to give the salesperson’s company a phone call before you commit any money.

  2. Shred all receipts with your credit card number and don’t give credit card, Social Security or Medicare information over the phone.

  3. Don’t let your mail sit in your mailbox for a long time and make a point to drop off sensitive mail at a box or a post office.

  4. Use direct deposit to prevent stolen checks.

  5. Shop around before making a purchase, whether it’s big or small.

  6. Sign up for the Do Not Call registry and check your credit report regularly.

If you are suspicious, do not hesitate to contact your bank, Adult Protective Services in your area or the police to ask for help. Stay safe!

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