Protecting Mom and Dad from Scams

Scams Targeting Seniors

As someone who looks out for your loved ones, make sure fraud and identity theft are on your radar. When it comes to your mom and dad or another important senior in your life, you should be aware of  the numerous ways identity thieves target seniors. Read on to find out how to defend against these scams and forms of financial abuse aimed at exploiting seniors everywhere. 

Know the Scams Targeting Seniors

The Grandparent Scam
A scammer calls their victim pretending to be a family member, typically their grandchild, in distress and in need of money. They say there is an emergency or legal issue — perhaps claiming it has occurred while they’re traveling abroad — employing any high-pressure tactics necessary to get their victim to wire them funds. Scammers do their homework before carrying out this scam, often gaining family information via social media. Numerous seniors have lost their entire savings to this scam.

Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
In this scheme, scammers inform their target that they have won the lottery so they need to provide a payment or sensitive information (i.e. Social Security number, bank account information) to unlock the supposed prize. They then use this information to commit fraud or identity theft.

Telemarketing Scams
Most scams targeting seniors use the phone to contact their targets. Scammers claim to have a limited-time offer, a charity in need, or an investment of a lifetime and encourage the senior to take part. The phone provides some anonymity to the scammer, giving them a leg up in evading detection.

Healthcare Scams
In 2014, the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimated $60 billion was lost to Medicare fraud — but that’s not the only place fraudsters hit the medical sector. Unethical medical providers, health clubs and retirement homes target seniors directly or use them as pawns in larger schemes. Direct scams include unnecessary tests or false billing for medical procedures; indirect schemes include Medicare and medical equipment fraud where fake invoices are sent to insurance providers.

Sweetheart Scams
Online dating has become a popular way to meet people at any age. But while it makes dating easier, seniors are quickly learning that some suitors are interested in stealing more than just their heart. Criminals, especially those outside the U.S., use online dating sites to meet seniors and begin a whirlwind romance in hopes of later hitting them up for money. Remind your parents to take things slow, withhold personal information and never send money to someone they haven’t met in person.

Reverse Mortgage Scams
Homeowners faced with tough financial times or a potential foreclosure may be interested in a reverse mortgage — a favored front for criminals. In a reverse mortgage scam, the con artist will convince their victim to obtain a reverse mortgage in order to save an at-risk property. This ploy tricks them into signing over the deed to their home or partaking in a bad deal that boasts abysmal returns.

10 Steps You Should Take to Protect Your Parents

  1. Include common scams in your next family talk
  2. Place your parents on the Do Not Call List
  3. Minimize their junk mail at DMAChoice.org
  4. Have the whole family lock down social media accounts [Social Media Privacy Guide]
  5. Share the “never” rules with them:
    • Never provide personal, financial or medical information over the phone
    • Never respond to urgent requests from the IRS or police via phone — they would never call you
    • Never answer the door for a stranger
    • Never wire money without knowing the recipient personally
    • Never share your Medicare information with anyone
  6. Remind them to review their accounts regularly (including financial accounts, subscriptions and medical benefits statements)
  7. Conduct thorough background checks of outside caretakers
  8. Encourage them to pull their free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com
  9. Discuss enrolling in identity theft protection services with them
  10. Talk to them about considering a credit freeze

Have your parents ever been victimized by one of these scams targeting seniors? Share your story in the comments below.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.

Laura, former VP of Marketing at EZShield, now a Sontiq brand, is a marketing professional with over 20 years of experience leading marketing and...
Read more about Laura Bruck.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t know what age you consider “senior” but I do know I am over 65. I DO NOT want my children freezing my credit. I am the one “helping” my children. My sweetheart was an old friend whom I knew for 16 years. I am not pleased with the attitude that just because we are older we are senile! Kids scam parents, I have seen it done more than once. That also needs to be carefully watched after. Greed is greed and kids can be there to take mom or dads money. No way should they have power!

    Reply
    • We appreciate you reaching out and hope to clear up any misunderstanding. The intention of our post “Protecting Mom and Dad from Scams“ was to point out how identity thieves and scammers target seniors and provide helpful tips to adult children who are caregivers or who assist their parents with financial matters. We suggested to “Consider placing a credit freeze” because it is worth consideration if there is concern of identity theft. In no way is this post recommending anyone make decisions without someone else’s consent. In an effort to ensure greater clarity for our readers, we will be adding a statement to this post about consent.

      Thank you again for your time,
      Laura Bruck

      Reply

Leave a Comment.