Initiatives That Could Help Prevent Elder Fraud | Crime
Senior Citizens and their families lose $3 Billion a year to con artists. What can we do to stop them?
This is a statement on the cover of the latest Consumer Reports magazine. In a recent study, about 1 in 20 seniors said they were financially abused. If a new disease struck that many older Americans the report noted, a public health crisis would likely be declared.
One of the most common scams of late is phone calls from the IRS stating the person contacted owes back taxes and if not paid will be confronted with law enforcement to be taken to jail. If they do not get a connection with the person, they leave a threatening message. In the first place, people have to take a breath and review the obvious. 1. The IRS would never make a phone call to you; any notices from them will come in the form of a letter. 2. Do I really owe any taxes? 3. Do not call them back and delete their number from your phone if you have caller ID. Most of these scammers use throw-away phones, so many of them are untraceable. A good rule too is, do not answer the phone if you do not recognize the phone number on caller ID. Let it go to your voicemail or answering machine. This cost a man $16,000 before he realized it was a scam.
Another scam is a call to Grandparents, telling them they have a grandchild in trouble and in need of money to get them out of a situation, most times, with the law or being stranded in a foreign country. The first call anyone getting this call should make, should be to the family of the grandchild or the grandchild. Sometimes the caller warns this person not to contact anyone else. This alone should be a RED FLAG! By keeping this to yourself and paying money, the big problem begins. One lady lost $65,000 in a situation such as this.
Sweepstakes is a big money maker for scammers. The golden rule for sweepstakes or any contest; if you are asked for money to process your winnings or asked to send money to cover the taxes of your winnings, BEWARE! You would never be asked to send money if it was a legitimate contest. If you win a legal lottery, you most likely would be asked to pay taxes, but also be given a choice as to how this would be done. An 87 year old lady lost $297,000 before she brought it out in the open to her family.
Scammers seem to focus on seniors or people who do not socialize a lot with family or others. They become targets for their scams and many of these people who are taken advantage of, never bring this to the attention of anyone, and so the scams continue with the victims losing thousands of dollars. Consumer Reports encourages people to get engaged with a group of people within your neighborhood, church or senior citizen centers. Make a point to call and be in touch with friends and family and don’t be afraid to speak to them about things that may be bothering you. Keep the lines open for help.
WZZM13 has reported many scams to help people be more aware of their surroundings. Pass along any knowledge you may have to your friends and family about some of these unfortunate situations that rob people of their security and finances.