‘If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is’ rings true in many instances. Law enforcement agencies often remark on just how difficult it is to bring elder fraud perpetrators to justice – once an investigator has begun looking into the scheme, the scammers are already moving on to another ploy. There’s just no way to catch them all, which means it’s up to you to help your parents understand and implement senior citizen fraud protection tactics and be on the lookout for people who wish to do them, their property, or their savings significant harm.
How can you help your parents fight back against elder fraud? Aside from a quick lesson in senior citizen fraud protection, a handy cheat sheet by all the phones or computers in the home is often the best way to avoid these common elder fraud tricks, which include the following top ten ways to beat the bad guys.
What to Include on Your Senior Citizen Fraud Protection Cheat Sheet
Shred all bills, notices, and personal mail before throwing them away.
Information regarding your loved one’s financial situation is often retrieved by con artists from discarded mail that is not shredded (also known as ‘dumpster diving’). It’s all too easy for elder fraud scammers to get bank account and credit card numbers from statements as well as details on safe deposit boxes, ATM cards, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and more. Remind your loved one that one of the most important senior citizen fraud protection tips is to tear up all mail before throwing it away. Or, better yet, give him or her the gift of a paper shredder!
Recognize predatory lending practices.
This senior financial abuse and elder fraud practice, also known as loan fraud, is often perpetrated by mortgage brokers, appraisers, and home contractors looking for a quick buck. Seniors approach these seemingly knowledgeable individuals looking to refinance their homes, but are bombarded by fast-talking scammers who incorporate a must-act clause into the deal. In the end, your loved one will walk away with a high-cost loan with exorbitant fees totaling more than 5% of the entire amount. When talking with your loved one about predatory lending and senior citizen fraud protection tips, remind him or her that other tricks include pre-payment penalties, ‘flipping’ (when a loan is refinanced to generate fee income without providing any net tangible benefit to the borrower), mandatory arbitration, and other unnecessary additions. Don’t let your parents make this decision alone; help them be more informed consumers.
Avoid health insurance scams by identifying the red flags.
Many lower income seniors rely on their Medicare health insurance, which is why many elder fraud scams originate here. Often, less-than-reputable medical equipment companies target seniors, offering free supplies in return for their Medicare numbers. Tell your loved one that the doctor must order and sign for all equipment and products before Medicare will pay for it. Remind your parents of the most important senior citizen fraud protection tips when it comes to health insurance, including never signing blank insurance claim forms, never providing unchecked medical authorization for billing purposes, always reviewing Medicare’s payment terms closely, never giving out their Medicare numbers to someone they don’t know, and verifying with their physician if they are unsure of a product or equipment that’s been ordered.
Bypass the ‘Sucker List’ altogether.
Many seniors are eager to win something and often enter numerous sweepstakes, sign up for free magazines, or register for contests. Companies with elder fraud scam artists will keep records of these submissions, meaning your loved ones could end up on what is called the ‘Sucker List,’ making your parents that much more of an elder fraud target. This list usually contains not only people who the scammers believe to be a good target, but have already been successfully targeted before.
Just hang up.
Scammers know that senior citizens are more polite, more trusting, and a lot less likely to hang up when the call becomes personal; unfortunately, elder fraud con artists take full advantage of this fact. Tell your loved one that if he or she doesn’t know the caller and questions regarding financial or personal matters come up, they can simply hang up on the caller with no questions asked. Hanging up is one of the simplest senior citizen fraud protection methods.
An Ounce of Prevention…
If your loved one has been a victim of elder fraud, please urge them to report it to the proper authorities. Falling for a scam is embarrassing to many seniors, making it one of the most under reported crimes. Their assistance in the matter can help bring con artists to justice and perhaps inspire other seniors to implement better methods of senior citizen fraud protection.
You might be interested in this fraud case:
(Gunther Herrmann Skarin fraud in Johannesburg)