Scams targeting seniors are always heartless. But one of the worst ways that criminals attempt to steal from seniors is by first posing as a trusted helper.
That’s exactly what happened recently at a senior living facility in Massachusetts, where a woman posing as a nurse’s aid was caught stealing precious valuables and money from residents.
According to AP News, the woman had personal checks, valuables, and ID cards from a number of senior living communities. By targeting individuals in senior living with dementia, she was able to steal without anyone noticing.
Seniors can stay safe by being wary of anyone asking for sensitive information. While scammers will continue to pose as helpful professionals, being alert and aware of your surroundings is important.
The Seniors Center is working to educate and inform seniors to help them stay safe. From senior scams to Social Security, we have the latest information on what seniors need to know. Visit our website for more information.
To find out more about what you can do to protect yourself or your loved ones, visit our website—or follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss an update.
When looking at the different ways that scam artists target seniors, it’s easy to focus on the ones that lure victims in with emotional appeals. Grandparent and sweetheart scams are both examples of this. But there’s another type of scam that’s just as dangerous, if not more so — the fraudulent check scheme.
How One Las Vegas Man Swindled Seniors Out of Millions
One recent example of an especially insidious fraudulent check scheme took place in Las Vegas. A 76-year-old resident of the city, Michael Zeto, was discovered to be stealing money from other seniors’ bank accounts by depositing fraudulent checks.
He first purchased the names and bank account information of senior citizens from foreign telemarketers. He created checks in their names and deposited them into his own business accounts. Zeto has since been caught, however, and faces many years in prison for this form of fraud.
Stay Safe from Fraudulent Check Schemes
Fraudulent check schemes are just one of the many ways that scam artists target seniors. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
The most important thing is to be aware of the signs of fraud. If someone you don’t know asks you to deposit a check for them, be very suspicious. Never give out your bank account information to someone you don’t know.
You should also keep a close eye on your bank account. Check your statements regularly and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. If you do become the victim of fraud, be sure to contact the police so they can catch the person responsible.
By following these simple steps, you can help keep yourself safe from fraudulent check schemes and other types of scams. At The Seniors Center, we’re helping seniors stay safe — and providing helpful information about Social Security and other issues impacting older Americans. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more!
Phishing scams are becoming more and more sophisticated—so much so that even a savvy guy like Keith Hernandez almost fell for one.
What Are Phishing Scams?
Phishing scams are a type of fraud where scammers send emails or texts that look like they’re from a legitimate company in an attempt to get you to share personal information like your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank account login information.
They might also try to get you to download software that will give them access to your computer or device.
Once they have this information, they can use it to commit identity theft or financial fraud.
Hernandez, a former MLB player and current broadcaster for the New York Mets, recently shared his story of how he almost fell victim to a phishing scam. He received an email that looked very official, purporting to be from Florida Power & Light, saying he needed to pay them a deposit or his power would be shut off.
The email looked legitimate at first glance, and he even called the number they gave him. But luckily, he called his bank before he gave them any of his personal information.
This incident is a reminder that we all need to be careful about the emails we open and click on. If you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of an email, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not click on any links or attachments.
Stay Safe from Scams
If you think you may have been the victim of a phishing scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also learn more about how to protect yourself from these types of scams by keeping up with The Seniors Center‘s latest posts.
Many seniors are aware of the most common forms of fraud targeting older adults, like romance scams and grandparent scams. However, scam artists are always coming up with new ways to attempt to steal money from hardworking Americans. Gift card scams, in which scam artists use tech support to weasel their way into seniors’ lives, have conned some individuals out of all they have.
One Woman’s Gift Card Scams Story
AARP has reported extensively on different forms of fraud targeting seniors, including gift card scams. One woman interviewed, a former teacher, spent $45,000 on gift cards over the course of three days. She was targeted by two individuals: one posing as an American Express employee, the other pretending to be a Microsoft tech support agent.
These individuals claimed that they could see illicit purchases made by the woman online and that there was a warrant out for her arrest. For them to help her, she would need to purchase them gift cards to the tune of five figures.
It was only once the ordeal was over that the former teacher realized she had been the victim of a scam. Now, working with the police, the FBI, and her credit card company, she’s making an effort to get back what she’s lost.
How can you avoid falling victim to this scam? First, know that no legitimate company or government agency will ask you to pay them in gift cards.
Additionally, pop-ups on your computer purporting to be from Microsoft can be a form of fraud. When in doubt, reach out to your credit card company or tech support agency directly rather than calling the number the pop-up provides.
For older adults, elder abuse is a serious problem. According to the National Institute on Aging, many older adults experience abuse each year. Elder abuse can happen to anyone and can be at the hands of a family member, friend, or caregiver. Because of this, it’s important to know the signs of elder abuse and know what to do if you suspect someone you know is a victim of abuse.
What are the Warning Signs?
There are many indications of possible elder abuse. However, some of the more common ones include:
Unexplained bruises or injuries
Unusual changes in mood or behavior
Withdrawing from activities or social interactions
Sudden changes in financial status or activity
A caregiver who is overly controlling or demanding
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, it’s important to reach out and offer help. You can contact a local elder abuse hotline or the police to report your concerns.
Sharing the signs of elder abuse can also help to educate others and prevent abuse from happening in the first place. Share what you’ve learned on social media or with your friends and family to help raise awareness.
The Seniors Center is here to support seniors by raising awareness of elder abuse and other forms of fraud and abuse targeting seniors.
Too often, the tactics used to put an end to scams targeting seniors only work once fraud or abuse has taken place. It’s more difficult to prevent fraud in the first place. However, a new law, The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, could help.
What is The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act?
Just last week, President Biden signed the bill into law, according to reporting from CBS affiliate WGME. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act enjoys bipartisan support and exists to protect senior citizens from becoming victims of scams in the first place. The act provides for a new office within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will work to root out scams and provide education for vulnerable seniors.
A few of the provisions of the act include:
Enhanced fraud monitoring
Increased consumer education on scams and forms of fraud
A stronger complaint tracking system at the Federal Trade Commission
These efforts can help protect seniors from fraud, but avoiding falling for a scam involves vigilance as well. If you suspect that you are being targeted in a scam, report it to the FTC right away.
Many scam artists target elderly Americans. They can be attractive targets because many seniors have retirement savings or own their own homes, resources that are valuable to scammers. The FBI works to take down scam artists, but relies on tips and insight from everyday American seniors to find out what common scams are causing problems.
This video from the FBI details how a former director of the agency was targeted by a scam and how he and his wife were able to take down the scam artist. Their article also gives seniors insight into how they can spot and report fraud.
Common Scams Targeting Seniors
According to the FBI, of the most common senior scams include:
Lottery scams – Be wary of anyone contacting you claiming that you have won money
Caregiver or guardianship scams – These insidious forms of fraud take advantage of seniors when they are most vulnerable
Tech support scams – Giving out passwords or access to devices can allow scam artists to steal personal information or money
If you suspect that you’re being targeted by a scam artist, you can use the FBI Tip Form to report your findings. Giving as much detail as possible can help the agency track down bad actors.
Guardianships are often put in place to help support and protect seniors who have advanced memory issues or other concerns that make independence possible. While these can be helpful for those who have loved ones in charge of the guardianships, there is also a possibility for guardianship fraud and abuse.
A recent piece by U.S. Representative Charlie Crist of Florida details some of the forms this fraud can take and ways that seniors can stay protected.
Since guardianships control finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions, having the wrong hands in charge can be disastrous for seniors. Guardianship fraud and abuse can involve taking funds from seniors, including their Social Security benefits and retirement savings.
A few ways to protect yourself or a loved one include:
Create power of attorney documents – These will ensure that only someone you trust can make important decisions for you
Talk with a lawyer – Have a lawyer look over any important documents, like a living will
Call on Congress to pass legislation – Ask you representatives to pass legislation protecting seniors
Taking these steps can help you stay protected against guardianship fraud and abuse.
For seniors, keeping private information safe is of the utmost importance. However, staying safe online can be challenging. Luckily, seniors can take advantage of a number of resources from the Social Security Administration to protect their information.
According to the official Social Security blog, several resources are available specifically so that seniors can protect themselves online. These include:
A my Social Security account – Open an online account to check for suspicious activity
The “Guard Your Card” infographic – Learn when you might need to show your Social Security card and when to keep it private
The Social Security Administration’s Privacy page – Discover how the SSA works to keep your identity safe
You can learn more about these and other resources on the Social Security Administration’s website. Share what you learn with your loved ones as well, as this information can help everyone whether they’re a Social Security recipient or now.
We’re working hard to ensure that seniors can stay safe from scams, fraud, and identity theft. Stay updated with The Seniors Center Blog’s latest updates by following The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook!
A new scam is targeting seniors—specifically, seniors with investments. Using fear tactics relating to economic insecurity, scam artists are working to convince retirees to trade their hard-earned investments for coins made out of precious metals that don’t hold the same value. Learn how to stay safe today.
How This Precious Metals Scam Works
How does this precious metals scam work?
First, salespeople will prey on fears about society at large—the pandemic, economic issues, or other forms of instability. They’ll attempt to convince their targets that having money in traditional investments is no longer safe.
Their alternative to investments? Buying coins made out of precious metals such as gold or silver.
However, fees and high markups can inflate the cost of these coins. Those who buy them are left with items of far less value than their investments were worth.
AARP reports that, Joe Rotunda, a member of the Texas State Securities Board, has noted that “These scams prey on the concerns that senior citizens may have relating to the economy, their retirement and their financial well-being.”
Be wary of anyone using pressuring tactics to encourage you to buy coins made out of precious metals. Talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any decisions involving large amounts of money. And report fraud to the FTC when possible.