Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Friday, May 29, 2015

Top Scams Targeting the Elderly and What to do If You’ve Been Victimized

I’ve received several calls lately that seem somewhat suspect. What are the latest scams I should know about? 

It is a sad reality that scammers from across the globe will stop at nothing to siphon the hard-earned savings of America’s senior citizen population. Fortunately, many of the ongoing scams against the elderly have been identified by authorities and highlighted in the article below. If you suspect you have lost money due to a scam artist, or are worried about the economic integrity of a loved one, be sure to contact authorities immediately. From there, an experienced elder law attorney can help you not only recover some of what you lost, but fortify your estate plan and financial situation to avoid exposure in the future. 

#5: Scams involving healthcare: Medicare, or prescription medication: As the Baby Boomer population ages, the number of reported scams involving Medicare or prescription medication fraud has also steadily increased. Medicare agents will never ask for your personal information over the phone, so be wary of any unsuspected/unplanned phone calls involving one posing as a Medicare employee. Likewise, seniors seeking lower rates on prescription drugs should be careful when shopping online, as there are hundreds of identified prescription drug scammers identified by the FBI. 

#4: Funeral & cemetery plot scams: Pre-paid funeral arrangements can be a savvy way to plan for the future or spend down assets for Medicaid planning. However, there is no shortage of fraud in this industry, and seniors have been duped into forwarding thousands of dollars to a prepaid funeral plan, only for the family to realize years later that the entire set-up was a scam. If you decide upon a pre-paid funeral plan and burial plot, ensure the company is reputable and ask for references before paying any money up front. 

#3: Online scams: Today’s seniors are much more internet savvy than generations past, however it is not uncommon for scam artists to use pop-up advertisements, phishing scams, or email blasts to entice users to offer sensitive information, including social security numbers and credit card information. Never enter this information into a website unless you know exactly what you are purchasing, and always ensure the site is encrypted and secure. Likewise, never send personal information via email, as this could be easily intercepted by hackers. 

#2: Reverse mortgage scams: For some, a reverse mortgage makes financial sense. However, this option is only available to senior citizens, making it a prime industry for fraud. Scammers love to target not only a perceived vulnerable population (i.e., the elderly), but those with substantial assets who own their own home. In a fraudulent reverse mortgage transaction, the fraudster will entice the homeowner to transfer the deed to the property in exchange for a home “elsewhere” or a lump sum of cash. Shortly after the transfer is complete, the victims realize the entire setup was a fraud, and have no home to which to return. 

#1: Telemarketing scams: In one of the oldest tricks in the book, telemarketers will prey on lonely or isolated seniors, living alone, who seem eager to talk to another person. The scammer will ask questions about their grandchildren or hobbies in order to gain their trust, then encourage them to make a large purchase over the phone. After providing credit card information, the victim is out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, and the scam artist is long gone. 

If you are facing a recent scam or have questions about certain solicitations you are receiving, do not hesitate to contact the experienced elder law attorneys at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge right away. You can reach the office by dialing (408)985-9918 today. 

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