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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Recent Upsurge in Senior Scams

The new year brings many things but unfortunately, among those new year’s gifts was an apparent rash of new efforts by scammers to victimize all of us – and especially our elderly population. This increased effort by scammers seems to manifest in two forms – phone calls and emails.

Sadly, this is big business. Estimated annual losses to scammers range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The wide range in the estimate is a result of under-reporting of these losses by the victims. And the people hit the hardest are seniors. Here’s a  breakdown of annual losses:

                Age 70-79 – $45,300

                Age 80 and older – $39,200

                Age 60-69 – $22,700

                Age 50-59 – $13,400

There’s a wide range of possible scams but here are the 10 most common.

  1. Medicare/health insurance scams: Many of these are phone calls from people saying they are Medicare consultants.
  2. Counterfeit prescription drugs: These are usually found as sales on the Internet.
  3. Funeral and cemetery scams: Scammers read obits and call to try to collect fake outstanding debts.
  4. Phony anti-aging drugs: These are too-good-to-be-true solicitations to make seniors look young and beautiful.
  5. Telemarketing/phone scams: Callers tell you they have a large sum of money for you, a family member has been in an accident or they are from a charity. Then they ask for access to your bank account.
  6. Internet/Email scams: This may be in the form of a pop-up browser for bogus anti-virus software or a nearly perfectly replicated email from what appears to be a legitimate company, the IRS or the Social Security Administration.
  7. Fraudulent investment schemes: These target seniors who are recently retired and looking to invest their savings.
  8. Homeowner/reverse mortgage scams: Again, using nearly perfectly replicated emails, scammers offer (for a fee) a reassessment of property or a reverse mortgage.
  9. Sweepstakes and lottery scams: You are told you won a lottery or sweepstakes and need to make a payment to get your prize.
  10. The grandparent scam: A fake grandchild calls and ask you to send money.

How do you or your senior family member avoid falling victim to these efforts? Create a family plan that designates someone trustworthy to protect your senior family members. This includes having a power of attorney and all the appropriate health care legal documents. Stay connected with your senior family members through phone calls and visits. Get to know any private caregivers who help your senior family members. And do your best to  make sure your senior family members do not sign documents or give their personal information to anyone you and they do not know.


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