Many scammers prey on those in retirement or approaching retirement, zoning in on hefty retirement accounts and years of hard-earned savings. There are a number of schemes and tricks that are geared specifically towards this demographic and the more you know, the better you can defend against these attacks.
Although scams against retirees and seniors alike have risen since 2017, just over half of this demographic report not being worried about the topic, and even more say they aren’t aware of anyone who was scammed. Although financial scams may feel next to impossible or you feel sure that you won’t be scammed, it’s important to know where scammers target retirees so you can be astute for yourself and your family and friends. Here are some of the most common ways thieves commit fraud against seniors and ways you can keep yourself–and your bank account–safe.
One of the biggest mistakes many retirees make is trusting something who is posing as a Medicare, IRs or related official, either in person or over the phone. It happens often–someone will introduce themselves as a representative of a prominent government program and ask for personal information, anything from your address to insurance ID number or Social Security number. They will then bill your Medicare for fabricated services or steal your identity. They may also ask for bank information such as a debit card to pay back taxes.
“Generally speaking, an agent from the IRS will never call you out of the bluedemanding tax payments,” and correspondence about any important information will be received via the postal system. New Medicare cards will arrive automatically in the mail at no cost to you. Call a verified IRS phone number to determine the validity of any claims you see online or by phone or from a visit from a representative.
Sometimes callers will call claiming they are a relative who needs money immediately for an emergency. Even if the call appears real, if you are not sure or don’t recognize the number be sure to contact your family directly to confirm that the situation is true.
With healthcare costs rising, sometimes fake medical companies will attempt to sell cheaper drugs or services to save you money on doctor’s visits or prescriptions when really the company is fake and money goes straight to the scammer.
Other industries that often target retirees include moving companies that offer to assist retirees with moving services at a fraction of the average cost. Many rogue companies will scam seniors by packing their items and holding them hostage essentially until a large amount of money is paid. Always opt for a licensed moving company.
Illegitimate lottery and sweepstakes companies are also high targeters. If you receive a phone call or email stating that you won a large sum of money and must claim it, think again. And remember that you should never have to pay to claim a prize.
Many retirees are approached to invest their savings into a vague stock or business with hopes of doubling their investment, when in reality they’re throwing their hard-earned dollars away into a pyramid scheme. This can happen domestically or internationally and sometimes happens to entire communities, as it did with an Alabama church community that was swindled into a ponzi scheme.
Fake investors often target groups and communities to garner a larger amount of funds in a short period of time. These scams, sometimes known as affinity scams or securities scams can target veterans, ethnic groups, community groups and nonprofit members or fraternal organizations like Kiwanis Clubs by pretending to know a member and offering a special investment opportunity or offering a voucher or real estate property in exchange for a large donation.
Tips To Protect You
- Stay Private. One of the most important things to remember is to never pass out important financial information or personal information over the phone. And report scammers on the phone to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Don’t Remain Isolated. Remain a part of a larger community and involve family, brokers or other people you trust in any moving, investments, real estate deals or relocation to ensure that you are working with trusted individuals and companies.
- Ask questions. If an unsolicited visitor comes to your home or calls you ask questions and inform them that you don’t agree to anything or hand out information without something in writing.
- Shred. Don’t leave your personal information lying around where it can be swiped from someone in your home, car or trash.
- Block. Add your number to the Do Not Call list to cut down on unwanted calls and harassing numbers.
Scammers don’t have to steal your peace of mind or your money with the right precautions and a discerning eye. If you have a bad feeling or it sounds too good to be true, trust you gut and get a second opinion. Do your research and refrain from making spur of the moment decisions to avoid being the next victim of a retirement scam. The right precautions can ensure you enjoy your retirement to the fullest.