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Protecting Seniors from Scams

June 21st, 2022 by tisner

Scammers are getting more and more creative with their swindling schemes, and older adults are no exception.  Some scams target the general population, but many aim specifically at senior citizens, and we should make our older friends, neighbors, and family members aware. This article features five common schemes:

  • Fake Social Security Claims:  This scam can begin with an official-looking letter in the mail or a phone call. The caller informs the recipient that there is a problem with their Social Security benefits or suspicious use of their SSN and could stop receiving their monthly deposits if the requested information is not provided immediately. Remind your older adult that the Social Security Administration will never call asking for more information unless they have applied for benefits. They should simply hang up and call their local SSA office or file a report through the SSA Inspector General Office website. 
  • “Family Member” in Trouble:  Someone posing as a family member, most commonly a grandchild, will contact the elderly person and claim to be in serious trouble. The caller says that they need money immediately and will als0 stress not to contact their parents to avoid getting in trouble with them. In spite of their urgency, the senior adult should hang up or disengage and contact another member of the family, or call the person claiming to be in trouble to make sure everything is okay. 
  • Homeowner Scams:  Older homeowners are targeted because they normally live in a home without a mortgage and a higher value than the purchase price.  Property tax scammers will offer to send someone to re-assess the value of the property to lower the taxes, but for a fee. No matter how official the correspondence may seem, the homeowner should always contact their local tax office to make sure they are not being had. 
  • Deceased Spouse’s Fake Debt:  Fraudsters have no shame, and will go through obituaries, then contact surviving family members to claim that the deceased has an outstanding debt.  The best defense against this is to not give out any financial information, and most certainly do not pay anything. The estate handles any outstanding accounts, not surviving spouses. 
  • Medicare Scams: Phone calls come daily–to those who are not even over 65–claiming to be a Medicare representative.  The most common claims the caller will make are asking to verify information, saying the account has a refund flagged, or offering free medical supplies.  Simply hang up without engaging in conversation.   

Though it may be difficult, stress to the older adult that their financial protection is as important as their physical well-being.  Giving a scammer any personal information can result in identity theft and financial ruin, so it is imperative that no matter their financial status, older adults understand not to trust any phone calls that initiate a financial or personal information transaction. 

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Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

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Photo credit: Senior Crossroads 

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