Senior Scams - PIH Health

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Published on December 28, 2017

Senior Scams - man holding a piggy bank

Senior Scams

Senior Scams - man holding a piggy bankAccording to the National Council on Aging, seniors have been experiencing such rampant financial scams in recent years that they are now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Many people think that seniors have saved a significant amount of money prior to retiring and it’s sitting in their accounts. While there are seniors who are financially well-off, most are living on fixed incomes and are vulnerable to scams.

Financial scams are considered a low-risk crime because they often go unreported and can be difficult to prosecute. What’s even more surprising is that over 90% of senior scams are committed by the older person’s own family. Their adult children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews take advantage of their familiar relationships to commit these crimes.

Here are the top 10 most common potential scams followed by tips to protect yourself.

10 Most Common Scams:

  1. Medicare/Insurance Scams: criminals can pose as insurance agents to access personal information or bill Medicare for false charges   
  2. Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
  3. Funeral and Cemetery Scams: disreputable funeral homes will add unnecessary charges and scammer will try to extort money from grieving widows or widowers
  4. Fake Anti-Aging Products  
  5. Telemarketing Scams
  6. Internet and Email Phishing Scams  
  7. Investment Schemes otherwise known as get-rich-quick scams
  8. Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams
  9. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
  10. The Grandparent Scam: posing as a grandchild and begging for much needed money on the phone  

8 tips to protect yourself:

  1. Be aware that you are at risk–even from your family
  2. Don’t isolate yourself–stay involved
  3. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
  4. Keep all your personal information in a safe place  
  5. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists
  6. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent them from being stolen out of your mailbox
  7. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call
  8. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and thoroughly do your research; if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is

If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of a financial scam, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to someone you trust. You’ll find that you are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing only makes it worse.

Every state operates an Adult Protective Services (APS) program, which is responsible for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and in most states, the abuse of younger adults with severe disabilities. Consider APS to be the “911” for elder abuse.

To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1.800.677.1116, or visit their website at:

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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