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Don’t Fall Victim to Elder Fraud

            In the information age and with the explosion of technology have come fraud, theft and deception of various kinds.  Elder fraud is the act of targeting older adults by attempting to deceive them with promises of goods, services or financial benefits that do not exist, were never intended to be provided or were misrepresented.  It is estimated that victims lose $2.9 billion annually as a result of elder fraud.

            The elderly are particularly susceptible to scammers and schemes as their mental abilities begin to decline.  Seniors also tend to be more trusting.  Let’s look at the more common schemes.

The Health Care Scam –  The National Council on Aging reports that scammers pretend to be health insurance or Medicare representatives so they can gain access to personal or contact information.  They then call back the senior at a later time, stating that they spoke with a son or daughter and that it is OK for the senior to reveal his/her Social Security number or driver’s license number.  The scammers then use that information to fraudulently bill Medicare in the name of the senior and keep the payments.

The Grandchild Scam – My father-in-law recently almost fell for this one.  Scammers will call pretending to be a grandchild or great grandchild.  The scammer will  often sound agitated and say something like, “Grandpa I need your help!”  The grandparent will then offer up the name of a grandchild, “Emily is that you?  What’s the matter?”  Once the fake identity has been established, the scammer tells a tale of woe that has resulted in the need for money to be wired quickly.

            In my father-in-law’s case, he was almost ready to wire the funds but called Emily’s mom first to find out more details of what had happened and learned that Emily was just fine.  But it can be so easy to fall prey so beware.

            Next week we’ll discuss some tips to help avoid scams.