If you have parents over the age of 65 they could be prime targets for scammers. There are a host of reasons why scammers choose senior citizens as their targets. While you may not be able to imagine that your parent could fall victim to one of these scams the truth is thousands of seniors do.
“Dad was a CEO of a large corporation. He is a smart man. We couldn’t believe that he fell prey to this scam!” ~ wailed Susan
Unfortunately, Susan’s father had the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Nobody in the family knew there was a problem. Sure, Dad forgot things sometimes. But doesn’t everyone? By the time they realized something was wrong Susan's father had lost most of his retirement savings.
Here are three scams you need to be aware of that target seniors.
The (Fake) IRS Scam
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of Americans more than a call from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) And the scammers know this. As such it is a commonly used scam. There are two types of IRS scams that have been making the rounds.
Email Phishing Scams
These scammers are “fishing” for information. They will send phony emails that claim to come from the IRS. They may tell recipients that they are due a tax refund. Of course, to get that refund you have to divulge your personal information that these scammers then use to steal your identity.
The IRS will not email you. Ever!
Warn your parents about this scam. Tell them if they get any suspicious emails to send them to you and you will have an expert check them out. Warn them never to reply.
If you have a parent who may have cognitive impairment you may want to look into safeguards. There are computers like the GrandPad that will still allow your parent to send and receive emails but the system is a closed one. Only people who are pre-approved can send emails.
IRS Impersonating Phone Calls
These people are really good at what they do. They sound very official and the calls usually originate from the Washington,DC area. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. And they know a lot about their targets. The scammers threaten with arrest unless you pay up immediately. They may even tell you that an officer is on the way to your home right now to arrest you. They can be very convincing. Make sure your parent know that the IRS will never call.
New Social Security Cards
The newest scam involves the new social security cards that are being distributed. The senior usually receives a call by someone posing as a Medicare Agent or healthcare worker. They are informed that in order to get their new Medicare card they need to purchase one.
Not true! There is no charge for your new Medicare card. The only action you need to take is to ensure Social Security has your current address, as the new cards will be sent to the address in their files.
If you’ve been solicited by a possible Medicare scammer, report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477), or submit a complaint online to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Recognize how you are asked to pay. Scammers will require you to wire the money using Moneygram or Western Union. This is because they will not be asked for identification to receive the money. Sometimes they will have unusual requests. Go to the store and buy 50 American Express Gift cards or put money onto a cash reload card. These are all warning signs that something is not right.
Be Kind- Don't Embarrass
If your parent has fallen prey to a scam don’t fuss and blame them. Doing so could cause a lot of embarrassment and upset. It will not change the situation. But it could mean that your parent will not come to you for help if something else happens.
Depending on the nature of the scam and how your parent reacted may be a warning sign. It may be time for a trip to the doctor to see if Dementia could be playing a role. If it is your parent could become more vulnerable and fall victim to other scams.
Having a Long-Term Care Policy in effect will ensure that at least part of your future will be secure. You parent may or may not still be eligible for a policy but if you are between 40 and 60 there is a good chance you will qualify.
As Certified Long-Term Care professionals since 2003, and members of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, both Sue and Allison have the training, knowledge, and experience to help you understand your options.
Sue Myers and Allison Younger
With over 20 years of experience, both women are committed to ensuring that their client’s long-term care needs are met while their wealth is protected.