In the month of May we celebrate not only National Older Americans month but National Elder Law Month. It is during this month that we like to answer the questions our clients have and ensure that both the seniors we work with and their loved ones have the answers they need to live healthy, productive lives. While we often spend our time focusing on elder law and estate planning solutions that will benefit both seniors and their loved ones, there are many additional important topics facing Older Americans that we need to bring to your attention.
During National “Older Americans” Month, the generational term applied to anyone over sixty years of age, we want to talk about the scams targeting seniors. Unfortunately, each day there is a growing number of scams targeting the senior population. As an age group, seniors are targeted more often than their young counterparts because they are believed to be less technologically savvy and more trusting of traditional methods of communication such as the mail or the telephone.
As a result of this belief, seniors remain a frequent target of criminals. We want to share of few of the trending scams with you right now so that you and your loved ones can be prepared and protected from this type of crime.
1. The sweepstakes scam. In this type of scam, the criminal targets the senior through the mail. The scammer often takes the time to gather data to learn the net worth, income, income sources, and purchasing history of the senior. An offer is designed to entice the senior to take action. It is important to realize that an offer that seems “too good to be true” often is. Be very wary of providing any private information or money to someone you have never met.
2. The utility bill scam. Through the utility bill scam, the scammer pretends to be from the utility company. He or she will threaten the senior that his or her power will be turned off for an indefinite amount of time if the senior does not pay the outstanding bill immediately. This scam happens more frequently over the phone today, with scammers even threatening to put a lien on the home of the senior. Do not give in. Instead, take down the caller’s information and call the utility company yourself to determine if this is a real bill or not.
3. The Medicare scam. No matter what time of year it is, Medicare scams are prevalent. As opposed to Medicare Open Enrollment scams, throughout the year criminals target seniors with healthcare solutions, prescription drug coverage and even help with out of pocket costs. Be very careful of anyone who calls you claiming to be from Medicare. Instead, contact Medicare on your own and only work with licensed individuals who you are able to research beforehand.
4. The grandparent scam. The grandparent scam continues to be one of the most emotionally difficult scams. Scammers use emotional manipulation to try and force seniors to take action. In this type of scam, the scammer will use someone who sounds young to impersonate a grandchild. The “grandchild” will claim he or she is in trouble and have a bank account for the senior to send money to. Although it is difficult, withstand this scam. Get the information from your “grandchild” and call your children to determine how you can help.
We know just how hard these scams can be to deal with when they try to extort money from you. Do not hesitate to ask for help and report these criminals to groups such as your local police and/or the Elder Fraud division of the FBI. If you have questions on this or any other elder law issue, we are your local attorneys and we are here to help you. Do not wait to contact our office.