In the animal kingdom, predators always pick the most vulnerable member of the herd to prey upon. The same is true of the human predators we call scam artists. In our current economy, seniors often have the assets that attract criminals to use schemes to separate elders from their accumulated wealth. While new schemes are thought up each day, here are three of the most common.
One: Schemes using the Internet: As more and more computer-literate folks become seniors, and an increasing number of seniors become knowledgeable about using their computers to access the internet, a new vulnerability has been created. The first service most of us learn to use on the internet is email. Email scams have become endemic. Never click on a link in an email unless you know who sent it to you. If you are going to use money-management or other financial software on your computer, be sure to research and install a trusted, known security package to protect your transactions.
Two: Schemes involving being an owner of property: Reverse mortgages are a poorly-understand financial device frequently used by scammers. There will usually be an offer of sums of cash or free property to be traded for the existing deed to a senior’s house. In addition, recent schemes consisted of scam artists representing themselves as government employees of housing agencies, promising lessened taxes due to reduced property appraisals, provided for a fee paid to the fake agency.
Three: Schemes based on Health Insurance: Traditionally the most prevalent slant on scamming seniors has been con artists falsely identifying themselves as official agents of Medicare or of a health insurance company. These fraudulent ploys attempt to obtain personal insurance-related info by promising reduced rates. Once the senior’s data is captured, false charges are made to the insurance provider, and the scammers get away with the compensation payments.
Remember, be on the alert for promises that are too good to be real. It could well be a scheme to scam you.