Fraud Schemes Targeting Seniors on the Rise
Protect yourself, or someone you love, from becoming a victim
In 2018, Congress passed a resolution designating May 15 as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day in recognition of the ever rising rate of financial fraud targeting senior citizens.
Did you know?
- There are roughly 49 million senior citizens (age 65+) in the U.S., about 15% of the population
- Financial fraud targeting seniors has become so widespread, it is now often referred to as “the crime of the 21st century”
- The Government Accountability Office estimates seniors lose a collective $2.9 billion on average each year to an ever-growing list of financial exploitation schemes and scams
- The median loss to victims age 80 and older averages $1,092 per person
Why target senior citizens?
- Even though low-income seniors are often victims, there’s an assumption that seniors are more likely to have a significant amount of money in their accounts
- Seniors are often more trusting, generally less familiar with technology, and make purchases over the phone at more than double the national average
- Easy access can also play a role since more than 90% of reported elder abuse crimes in general, including financial, are committed by a family member
Top 10 Senior Scams
Although there are countless scams and ways to commit financial fraud, the National Council on Aging (ncoa.org) lists the top 10 financial scams targeting seniors:
- Medicare/Health Insurance – Callers often pose as a Medicare representative asking for personal or financial information from victims
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs – With seniors often looking for better pricing on medications, many fall victim to online scams, including products that don’t work or may actually cause harm
- Funeral/Cemetery – According to the FBI, scammers will often read obituaries and then call or attend a funeral service to advantage of the grieving widow or widower by claiming the deceased owed them money
- Fraudulent Anti-Aging Products – Seniors seek treatments and medications that often don’t work in an effort to maintain a more youthful appearance
- Telemarketing/Phone Scams – Fake charities, bogus IRS demands, and fraudulent pleas for money to help a relative with a medical or legal emergency are common
- Internet Fraud – Seniors are not generally as adept at newer technology making them easier targets for scams using pop-up windows, including bogus anti-virus products, as well as phishing emails posing as legitimate companies/financial institutions asking for personal information
- Investment Schemes – As seniors plan for retirement and search for ways to safeguard their money, scammers will often try to lure them into complex financial products, pyramid schemes, or even fairy tales of a foreign prince willing to share wealth for a small investment
- Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage – Seniors considering reverse mortgages should be cautions and mindful of those pressuring them to obtain the reverse mortgage who may also benefit from it
- Sweepstakes/Lottery – Scammers may provide a check representing “winnings” for deposit into a senior’s account, immediately collecting money for fees or taxes before the check bounces
- The Grandparent Scam – Scammers posing as a grandchild ask to borrow money in an emergency and have it sent via Western Union or MoneyGram, which doesn’t always require an ID to collect