How to Say “No” to Financial Scam Artists
Con artists target senior citizens for a variety of reasons: they may have more money in their accounts, they are politer and less likely to say no or hang up the telephone, and they are less likely to report an incident.
Financial scams can wreak havoc on the financial health of anyone. According to a survey by Allianz Life Insurance company, elderly victims of financial abuse reported losing an average of $30,000 and some report losses of up to $100,000.
- 5% of seniors over the age or 65 say they have lost money in a financial scheme
- Approximately 20% of people from age 40 to 64 surveyed said they knew an older person who’d been a victim
It’s important to know how to protect your finances and private information. Here are some of the top schemes, as well as tips from the FBI on how to avoid them:
1. Medicare and health insurance scams
Con artists pose as Medicare representatives to obtain personal information or provide phony services and then bill Medicare.
- Only give your insurance ID number to people who have provided you with medical services
- Never sign blank insurance claims forms.
2. Counterfeit prescription drugs
You try to order your prescription medications through an alternative source to save money, and instead you receive fake drugs, or worse, the wrong medication.
- Do not purchase prescription drugs from unlicensed online distributors or from services that sell medications without a prescription.
- Tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately if your medication causes adverse side effects or if your condition doesn’t improve.
3. Funeral and cemetery scams
Scammers read obituaries and call claiming your loved one had an outstanding debt with them and try to extort money. Or disreputable funeral homes will add unnecessary costs to funeral services.
- Consult a legal advisor before paying off any unknown debts.
- Take a friend with you and compare at least two funeral homes before signing anything.
- Learn the differences between basic fees and additional services from funeral homes.
4. Telemarketing/phone scams
This is a common scheme where scammers make fake telemarketing or charity solicitation calls to senior citizens. Seniors make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. Some typical warning signs of scams are: “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good,” “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier,” and “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.”
- Ask for and wait until you receive written material about an offer from the company or charity.
- Check out any unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau.
- Don’t pay for a free prize – if a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, that’s a violation of federal law.
For more information on how to avoid scams or to report financial abuse, visit the official website of the U.S. government’s consumer protection agency.
On 5/13 we will be hosting a Fraud Prevention seminar. Check back soon for registration details.
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