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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, January 13, 2020

Top 12 Scams Targeting Seniors

Elderly individuals are common targets for scammers seeking to steal money and property from unsuspecting victims. Some scams targeting seniors have been around for years, but it seems that new scams are invented each year that target seniors in particular. Our California elder law attorney discusses the top 12 scams targeting seniors to help you understand how your loved ones may be targets of thieves and scam artists.

12 Scams that Target Seniors

1. Burial and Funeral Scams

Seniors are often the targets of burial and funeral scams. These scams can include purchasing unnecessary burial insurance or adding unnecessary charges to a funeral bill. In some cases, an older adult may be approached by a scam artist claiming that a recently deceased spouse owed a debt that must now be paid by the grieving widow or widower.

2. Charity Scams

Charity scams are another popular way for scammers to obtain money from elderly individuals, especially after natural disasters. The scammers often call claiming that they are with a national organization that an elderly person may recognize, but they also may appear on your loved one’s doorstep to ask for cash.

3. Identity Theft

Elderly individuals are susceptible to identity theft because they may be more willing to give out their personal information if they believe the person is from a government agency, such as the IRS or Medicare. In many cases, a scammer calls claiming they need to verify personal information. They may have the person’s name, address, and birth year from information discovered online. The scammer “verifies” this information so that the elderly person will provide other personal information such as their full birth date and Social Security Number.

4. Internet Fraud

Using the internet safely at any age requires a certain skill set. You need antivirus programs and malware programs to prevent your personal information from being stolen. Elderly individuals may be less likely to update their virus protection and more likely to click on unknown links in emails.

5. Investment Scams

Seniors may worry about outliving their retirement savings. Scammers play on those fears by offering fraudulent investment schemes that promise additional income without risking their current assets. These promises result in the loss of thousands of dollars and entire savings accounts.

6. Reverse Mortgage Scams

A reverse mortgage pays money to a homeowner while allowing the homeowner to remain in the home. Upon the death of the homeowner or the sale of the home, the mortgage is paid. Elderly individuals should only borrow equity from their homes through reputable lenders.

7. Grandparent Scam

Scammers search the internet and social media to locate information about an older person’s grandchild. The scammer calls the grandparent stating that the grandchild is injured, stranded, or arrested. The scammer may even pretend to be the grandchild asking for money directly to resolve an unexpected financial crisis.

8. Social Security Calls

Recently there has been an increase in the number of fraudulent calls from individuals claiming to be with the Social Security Administration. They may spoof the number that appears on the receiver’s telephone and may have some information about the person that makes them sound legitimate. SSA rarely calls and ask for personal information by telephone unless they have an ongoing matter with the person.

9. Fraudulent Prescription Medications

Many seniors are concerned with the cost of prescription drugs. Scammers offer prescription medications at a huge discount. The medications are often vitamins, or worse, the drugs can be dangerous and deadly.

10. Internet Friends

Many seniors live alone and may be isolated from family members. The internet is a way to socialize and remain connected with the outside world. However, scammers use this to befriend seniors and then play on their emotions to obtain money for various emergencies.

11. Anti-Aging Products

Some scammers play on the fear of aging by offering anti-aging products that promise to make your body and mind stronger or improve your appearance. These products are sold at extremely high prices with auto-delivery options that are nearly impossible to cancel.

12. Sweepstakes and Contests

A scammer contacts an elderly individual claiming that the senior won a contest or sweepstakes. To claim the prize, the senior must pay a fee by money transfer.

Contact a California Elder Law Attorney to Help Protect Your Loved One

If you or your loved one is the victim of elderly fraud or scams, report the incident to the authorities immediately. Contact the experienced elder law attorneys at Horizon Law today to discuss ways that you can prevent your loved one from being the victim of scams and fraud.


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