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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Scams Targeting The Elderly - What You Need to Know in 2019

Scams targeting the elderly are common throughout the United States. The American Journal of Public Health estimates that two to three million elderly individuals (about five percent of the elderly population) are the victims of scams every year. Our California elder abuse lawyers discuss some of the important things you need to know about elderly scams for 2019.


Why Do Scammers Target Seniors?


There are many reasons why scammers target elderly individuals. Access to retirement and pension funds is one of the main reasons elderly individuals are targeted. Seniors often have access to large sums of money in their retirement accounts or through the equity in their assets.


Another reason scammers target the elderly is the isolation that some seniors experience. It is easier to scam someone who is lonely and who does not discuss financial matters with other individuals. 
The lower risk of being reported is another reason scammers target seniors. Seniors fail to report scams because they are embarrassed when they realize they were scammed. They may also fail to report scams because they do not realize they have been scammed. Dementia and other age-related cognitive impairments may make it difficult to remember key facts or important information.


Popular Scams Aimed at Elderly Individuals


Many of the same scams continue from year to year because they work. Understanding the popular tactics used by scammers can help you avoid scams. You can also help your family members and friends who might be vulnerable to scams by discussing popular scams and what to do if they receive a suspicious telephone call, notice, or email.


Telephone Scams


Telephone scams are popular scams aimed at senior citizens. A popular telephone scam involves telling someone that they have missed jury duty. The caller states that he is calling from the court to inform the person that he or she missed jury duty and will be arrested unless the fine is paid immediately. The caller may also request the person’s Social Security Number to “verify” identity.
A similar scam is the IRS scam. Someone calls claiming to be an IRS officer. The caller explains a “problem” with the person’s taxes and requests information, such as Social Security Numbers and birthdates, to “verify” the information. The caller may also threaten arrest if the person does not pay a fine immediately.
Another popular telephone scam involves the caller stating that he or she is the person’s grandchild.  The caller sounds terrified and explains that he or she has been arrested or in an accident. If the caller does not receive money right then, something terrible will happen.
Scammers are talented and very convincing. They can often obtain the information they need to carry out the scam by talking with the person for a few minutes.


Email Scams


Internet scams are also used by scammers to target seniors. Scammers send emails claiming that the receiver has won the lottery, has unclaimed money, or won a contest. The email is phishing for information or trying to get the receiver to click a lick. A similar email scam involves a notice from the person’s bank, PayPal, credit card company, or other financial institution. The email may warn that the account has been compromised. Again, the email is designed to get information that can be used to steal the person’s identity or entice the person to follow a fraudulent link.


Software Scams


Another popular internet scam involves software scams. A caller may state that he needs access to your computer to update software to prevent problems and viruses. The caller may state that he is from the computer’s manufacturer and needs to fix a technical issue. The goal is to gain remote access to the computer to steal information or install malware.


Anti-Virus Scams


The anti-virus scam is similar. Following a link in an email or on a web page takes you to a page that says your computer is infected. You may not be able to leave the page. In some cases, a voice tells you that you need to call now because your information is at risk. When you call the number, you are instructed to allow the person to have remote access to “clean” the computer. Of course, there will be a fee associated with the service.


Working With California Estate Planning And Elder Lawyers To Reduce The Risk Of Elderly Scams


If you believe your family member may be vulnerable to scams, you can take steps to protect their assets. By utilizing powers of attorney and other estate planning options, you can monitor your loved one’s accounts for fraud and scams. Contact a California elder law attorneys at Horizon Law today to discuss how you can help prevent elderly scams.f


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