7 Common Scams that Target the Elderly
August 18, 2020 by Hunter Swanson
Unfortunately, there are dishonest people that take advantage of thousands of older Americans each year. But if we can see through their charade, we can keep ourselves safe. This post can help you recognize 7 common scams that target the elderly.
1. The Fixer: “You need a new roof!”
As homeowners, this scam usually begins with a spontaneous visit from a “contractor” offering a special repair deal because something is terribly wrong with your home that needs urgent attention. Ask to see a contractor’s license number and check it with your state’s Contractors License Board.
2. The Loaner: “I can get you a loan for that new roof.”
Watch out for predatory lenders offering too-good-to-be-true home equity loans with hidden high interest rates, unnecessary fees, and unreasonable repayment terms. Reputable lenders rarely solicit business via phone or in person. If you need a loan, contact us or your financial institution.
3. The Magician: “I can make your bad credit disappear!”
Some scammers promise to erase negative items from a report – for hundreds of dollars. However, bad credit cannot be transformed into good credit. The only real way to improve your credit rating is through time and effort: pay what you owe, keep your balances down, and use credit responsibly.
4. The Winner: “Congratulations, you’ve won!”
Get a call or a letter saying that you’ve won a prize, but in order to claim it you need to send money to cover a shipping or handling fee, or pay for taxes upfront? Nope. As much as you want to believe that Lady Luck has finally paid you a visit, with an offer like this she probably hasn’t.
5. The Helper: “I can help you recover your loss.”
This one targets seniors who have already been swindled. A con typically poses as a government agent working on your case and cash is needed to conduct the investigation. They know you’ve been taken advantage of because they either bought the information or were the original scammer.
6. The Savior: “I want to help you pay your bills.”
Be highly selective with the person you choose to help, particularly if he or she suggests becoming a joint account holder. That person will have as much power as you do to withdraw funds, and can arrange to inherit every dime in the account at your death.
7. The Changer: “This will change your life!”
Offers to attend an investment or estate-planning seminar either online or in person are often bogus operations that market heavily to retirees wishing to prepare their estate or increase a fixed income stream. Slick-talking salespeople convince attendees to buy useless services or divulge personal information.
Knowing these 7 common scams that target the elderly will help you see through a con. If you’re not sure, contact the Better Business Bureau to verify that a business is legitimate. If you’ve been scammed, report the crime to the police and the Federal Trade Commission. Remember to be vigilant, ask questions, and keep yourself safe from dishonest people.
BALANCE is an amazing resource for all our members to utilize when taking on life's milestones. With trusted guidance available for free, they are ready to help everyone on the path to financial wellness. This article and many more can be found on their website: balancepro.org.