With technology becoming more and more integrated with our everyday lives, the growing occurrence of senior scams is a problem that puts many older adults in harm’s way. Scams have always been a problem and seniors have always been a target because they are isolated, less mobile, possibly lonely, and generally have property, life savings and other assets.
We’ve found an all-inclusive Senior Fraud Protection Kit that has a number of good resources to help keep you informed on the dangers of scams and what you can do to prevent them from happening.
While this guide contains a lot of valuable information, we’ve pulled the top tips that you should follow. Please be advised: These tips aren’t foolproof but, if followed, should greatly reduce the chances of fraud.
- Never provide information or transact business in a phone call that you did not initiate without verifying the authenticity of the caller.
- Obtain the salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address and mailing address before you give information or transact business.
- Tell the salesperson you have to talk to your son or daughter and ask for a call back number. Scammers will generally have no call back number or the line will be dead.
- If you are convinced that the call is real, have them verify the payment amount and ask them about their cancellation policy. A real business will have no trouble answering these questions.
- Some scammers say they are law enforcement officials over the phone and they are trying to solve a crime that involves you. Police will always contact you in person.
- NEVER give out your social security number or even the last 4 digits to an unknown person or business.
- ONLY provide your social security number to business that you are already working with.
- In regards to health-care fraud, a scammer will call and ask for your Medicare card number so they can ‘send your supplies via mail.’ Be sure to get verification of the company they work for and that it matches with your current provider.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before you act upon a phone call or piece of mail.
- Add yourself to the nation Do-Not-Call Registry to avoid potential scams and solicitation.
- Don’t respond to request, offer or free gift if it involves paying charges or other fees up front.
- If you’re not sure, just hang up. There is nothing wrong with just saying, “ No thank you,” and hanging up the phone if you are being pressured, are unsure, or are just uncomfortable.
The FBI also provides valuable information about seniors being fraud targets. They explain how to spot the most common senior scams and provide tips on how to prepare for them and more importantly how to avoid them.
Despite scams becoming more and more common, staying informed and staying prepared can help you avoid trouble and stay safe.